rowyn: (Default)
Health/Fitness
My weight hasn't changed! Despite not exercising and eating crap. So there's that.

Lut was discharged from the hospital and went to rehab in August, which was actually pretty effective. He's still critically low on energy since he got home, but he is otherwise much closer to normal.

Writing
I set a writing goal for myself partway through the month, of 200 words of new fiction per day. This is a pretty trivial goal, and I still didn't always make it. Still, wrote around 5000 words on Demon Hunter, so that was something. \o/

I also started making some more notes for a different book in yet another setting. We'll see if this one gels.

The Business of Writing
I finished my penultimate editing pass on Scales (or whatever I'm finally calling it). I cut another 17,000 words out of it. It is still longer than A Rational Arrangement, but less than 5% longer now. Only about 3,200 of those removed words were entire scenes. The other 13,800 were entirely a matter of abbreviating scenes and rephrasing things to use fewer words, without changing the substance at all.

I am now doing a final proofreading pass, which is pretty much "check to see if any of those words you chopped out were actually important and you need to put them back" and "find the editing artifacts you introduced by trimming the book down by 8%." I'm on the last 100 pages (as of 9/10) so that'll be done soon. I will do one more read-through, but that's after Alinsa typesets it. That read-through is just to make sure that typesetting it doesn't introduce any new errors.

Art/Other
Nothing in August.

Socializing
I saw Corwyn a couple of times, but spent most of August at work/hospital/nursing facility.

Happiness
It was a hard month. Neither the hospital nor the nursing facility were fun places to be. September is better. Lut is home!

Goals for coming month
  • Finish proofreading Scales
  • Write 5000 words of Demon Hunter
  • Do some art for Scales and/or start editing book 2

One reason I got the Surface 3 was that i wanted to do some incidental art for Scales, and maybe some promotional images. I am not sure I will be happy enough to use anything I come up with, but we'll see! I might do something in the same silhouette style I used for ARA, but with different colors. And more individualized than the TME ones, since I don't need to worry about re-using them for a serial.

I am still pretty unambitious on creative goals (at 200 words per day, I'm going to write 6000 words of Demon Hunter). But a lot of stuff is still going on and I don't know what my new routine will look like.

LUT IS HOME

Sep. 7th, 2017 08:30 pm
rowyn: (Default)
We are both extremely happy. I was skipping around in the hallways at the nursing facility as I gathered his stuff to get it into the car.

We have a week's worth of his general medications, but only a couple of days of pain meds. I meant to call his new primary care physician about that but forgot. Dangit. Hopefully I can get it taken care of tomorrow.

I got him home a little after ten. His physical therapists had told me that he could in fact get in and out of our current bed, so I hadn't replaced the bed yet. He confirmed this by getting up and down a few times. Then we spent some time cuddling because it has been SO LONG since we got any proper cuddling. ♥

Afterwards, I left him to rest while I went to the nearest Microsoft Store, which is a half-hour away. The peripherals for the Surface 3 arrived on Tuesday. I am happy with the case and keyboard, but the stylus I got is terrible. I decided I wanted to test some in person, rather than ordering and returning one after another from Amazon. I couldn't find anywhere close that had floor models of styluses: hence, pilgrimage to MS Store. They only had one stylus, which was of course super-fancy and over three times the cost of the one I'd gotten from Amazon. On the other hand, I didn't actively hate the feel of it against the screen. Like the tactile sense of using plastic stylus on glass screen was extremely unpleasant. The MS pen has a softer nib and it feels much nicer. So I went ahead and bought it. At the store! Which I would have done even if it had been cheaper at Amazon, because I am not the sort of monster who will test things in a store so I can buy them only. But this was a weird case where it was cheaper in person. Amazon, for some reason, is charging $14 more for it than the retail price.

I still have to return the other stylus to Amazon, and a pair of loafers that I ordered that doesn't fit Lut.

*goes to Amazon and gets the electronic part of the return taken care of now*

I am spending so much more money at Amazon lately, but Amazon Prime is so nice. -_- On balance, Amazon Prime makes it actually easier to return items than things bought in person. I do have to print the label, which is annoying, but even with boxes that have to be dropped off and can't just be shoved in a mailbox, the dropoff locations for USPS and UPS are closer than most stores. And I don't have to wait at a customer service counter. OTOH, I am much more likely to buy the wrong thing online where I can't try it than I am in person, so there's that.

Anyway, since I was relatively close to the nice Indian place on the other side of town, I went there for lunch. Why is naan so good. I don't even know. It's a buffet, and I had skipped breakfast because I was figuring on going there today. I have now also skipped dinner because I am still so full. SO FULL. The buffet includes bottomless mango lassi and also bottomless chai because OF COURSE IT DOES.

I saw them packing a to-go order. I am getting food to-go next time because buffet is such a bad idea for me.

They sent me home with a cup of chai and the remaining naan.

After that, I stopped by a Chinese place to get to-go for Lut/ Lut got up to eat, then went back to bed. He is still spending most of his time asleep or resting, but when he's awake he is alert and lucid. So this is far from optimal but oh man, it has been SO MUCH worse. And it is just so nice to have him be home and me be home and we can be at home and comfortable together. We keep saying it to each other. "You're home!" "I'm home!" We are so happy, y'all.

I took a nap in the afternoon because SO FULL. Also, this is the first time since Lut went to the hospital on June 30 that I have been home in the afternoon to nap. Ahhh, home. z_z

Later, I put away Lut's stuff that we brought home from the nursing facility, because I am temporarily possessed by the Spirit of Adulthood and don't want to leave things sitting around in bags for months like I normally do. My house is presently kind of almost tidy? I mean not really but SORT OF? And I want to keep it that way.

And cuddled Lut some more.

Because Lut is home.

\o/
rowyn: (content)
Lut is coming home!

It doesn't feel real.

They told me on Tuesday that he should be discharged either today or tomorrow, which meant I had to cancel my plans to go to ProgPower. Which we'd always known I might have to cancel, but I still feel bad for not being able to go with Alinsa to it. Finding out the day before I was supposed to fly was annoying. But the tickets are on Southwest, so we canceled them and I get a credit I can use for another Southwest flight. So the money isn't wasted, at least. I could even use it for next year's ProgPower.

Lut was shocked when I told him the news last night. He was almost worried at first, but by today, he was excited and pleased. One of the staff even commented on it: "You must be happy about going home. I don't think I've ever seen you smile before." We had a good day today: after he did physical therapy and occupational therapy, we went out for lunch to 54th Street and Grill and ordered ridiculously too much food. I dropped off leftovers at the house and then took him back to the nursing facility, where they let us know he'd be discharged tomorrow. \o/

Lut rested for a few hours, and then around dinner time he talked about shaving his head when we got home. I suggested we go to Great Clips instead, since it'd be pretty cheap and much faster for a pro to do it. "Okay," he said. "Let's go now!"

It turned out there was a Great Clips less than a mile away, so we zwooped there, and Lut chatted with the hairdresser about his day and how he wanted his beard trimmed and suchlike, while I watched and played with my new Surface 3. Then we went to Backyard Burger (also close) for a snack. Because we were both still full from lunch but Lut wanted to get a cobbler anyway. I got a milkshake.

Then back to the facility so Lut could rest more. He still spent most of today resting or asleep, but he was more alert, talkative and playful when he was awake, much more like his normal self.

I've done some more cleaning since Sunday. The house isn't exactly clean, but I got most of the clutter that was on the floor packed away. The cat area and the kitchen have been mopped, and the kitchen is generally clean. The bathroom is mostly clean. And I vacuumed all the carpets. I still want to clean the bathroom floor and declutter the flat surfaces in the living room, but this is pretty good progress.

LawnWoman and Friends have done an amazing job on the yard. Like you can see the yard again. They ended up ripping out most of the vines and scrubby trees that grew along the fence line, and flattening all the weedy bushes that were choking the front walk, and in general it no longer looks like my yard is about to eat my house at any moment. Her crew has been working since Sunday, with the bulk of the work done on Monday and Tuesday. They have done an incredible amount of work, like way more than I ever do, but now the yard will be much easier to maintain. Anyway, definitely feel like I'm getting my money's worth. Also so glad that they are doing the outside so that I had time to do the inside. The house will not be in perfect shape when he gets home tomorrow, but it looks considerably better than when I took him to the hospital back in June.

\o/

And I still have 6 more days off before I go back to work! So I might manage the remaining decluttering. Or do something else constructive. It's been a good staycation so far.

And Lut is coming home!
rowyn: (Default)
Saturday Morning:

It's Saturday! No word from LawnWoman yet, which to be honest is the story of my life at this point. I am not worried about it. It will get done by someone else or I will do it myself at some point in the next 11 days.

But since I'm ostensibly not doing it now, I am using the time for something I can't hire someone else to do: decluttering and organizing my house. I also plan to clean, which I could hire someone else to do, but honestly the work I care about is decluttering and organizing and that's the hard part. Once I've done that, I might as well do the comparatively easy vacuuming and mopping and stuff. I started last night, by putting away some of the stuff that got moved when the ceiling collapsed last summer (yes, over a year ago) and never got put back. In the process, I found Lut's old phone. \o_ Lut hates his new phone, so I may see if I can get T-Mobile to give me an adapter for the new phone SIM card so I can fit it in his old phone.

Today, when Lut went back to bed after breakfast, I drove back home and started cleaning out his closet. The problem we have right now is that our stuff has overflowed all of our storage places for stuff, so I can't put away the stuff that's clogging up my rooms without first cleaning out drawers and suchlike. I also almost certainly need to replace my bed, as it's too tall for Lut to get into and out of comfortably. This sucks on multiple levels. First, my bed is a California king waterbed frame with a foam mattress stuffed into it. It's on a drawer pedestal and has a ginormous headboard for EVEN MOAR storage space. Getting a shorter bed means losing dozens of cubic feet of storage space. And, see aforementioned "I do not have enough storage space NOW." I need to get rid of stuff. Plus I need to figure out how to get rid of the bed, because just getting it disassembled and out the door is a two-man job, and it's not like trash collection is going to take it. Probably I should try freecycle or Craigslist or something. -_-

Anyway, Lut's closet held mostly electronics and empty boxes. Oh, he has clothes in there too, but it's a huge closet (like eight feet long and maybe three feet deep) and all of the clothes he actually wears are in a dresser.

The electronics were:
  • Keyboards
  • Mice and trackballs
  • Gaming controllers he hasn't used in years (some of which he never used much: he's gotten at least three different things that amount to "keyboard for one-handed use" and he's never used any of them for more than a few months.)
  • Approximately two hundred cables, mostly for purposes I can't identify. Some were old power cables
  • Surge protector strips
  • A battery backup
  • A CRT monitor
  • A defunct printer
  • Miscellaneous old computer parts: harddrives, fans, a motherboard, a CD ROM or DVD drive, not sure which
Most of the small stuff I packed back into two boxes and returned to the closet. It would make sense to throw it out, or at least to throw out 95% of it. Keeping spare network cables and power cords: fine. Keeping cords for peripherals we don't own and that don't fit to any computers we do: why. But I felt kind of bad about throwing away Lut's stuff and this doesn't take up a lot of space.

I did throw out all the empty boxes, though. Seriously, he just kept boxes for every electronics thing we ever got. There were three monitor boxes in his closet and a dozen or so for different internal computer parts.

The CRT monitor, though, I really did not want to keep. It is huge and it doesn't pack well: I can't put things on top of it and it's so heavy I don't want it on top of boxes. Moreover, it was one of THREE CRT monitors that we haven't used in 4+ years. Yes, I suspect it still works. I am also pretty sure we're never plugging it in again. Lut and I both have dual monitor set ups. We have a spare already on the desktop if anything happens to one of them.

Anyway, Lut has always been like "why shouldn't we keep the spare old monitors" and I've always been like "because they take up SO MUCH SPACE" and he's not here to argue with me so I decided to get rid of them.

Of course, you can't just put monitors on the curb for the garbage collectors to take. But I have a car now! I used Google to find an electronics center that was open and called them to verify that I could in fact show up and make my old electronics their problem now. They charged 35 cents a pound for TVs & monitors, and 20 cents a pound for scanners & printers. Everything else is free to drop off. (You can even take a tax deduction for other stuff, the place is a nonprofit).

So I loaded up my car with ALL THE WORTHLESS ELECTRONICS. My two scanners that I haven't had drivers for in 7 years (cry). The printer. The TV set that has been unused in the basement since we moved in 14 years ago. Two CRT monitors. One dead flat screen monitor. A broken lamp and two broken fans. An empty computer case. I almost took my two dead weed whackers, but I didn't want to spend the time to (a) dig them out of my garage, which is chock-full of a friend's stuff and (b) verify that I didn't confuse the dead weed whackers with the one that works.

I also tried to give them the pile of dead batteries from the basement, but alas, they don't take batteries.

Technically, this is not actually all of the junk electronics in my house. We still have three old desktop computers and one CRT monitor, for instance. We still have a TV set we haven't used since 2004 and a VCR we haven't used in even longer. Probably some other stuff, too. But it made a substantial dent in the pile.

My strangest find in the closet was Lut's duffel bag. It was almost empty, except for the following: one messenger bag, a paperback book, a cardigan, a box of tissues, and a mostly-empty box of tea bags, and a bunch of instant oatmeal packets. One of the packets had come open and spilled oatmeal all over the bag.

This utterly mystified me at first: why would anyone put a bunch of oatmeal packets in a duffel bag and then put the whole thing in an office closet?

But I figured it out! This must be the bag Lut packed when he left his last job. He would've kept the tea and oatmeal at his desk at work, for drinks and breakfast if he ran late. Then he never got around to unpacking it when he brought it home, and one of us got sick of it being in the way in the living room and stuffed it in the closet.

Saturday Night:

After getting rid of the electronics (141 pounds of stuff I was charged for, and probably another 60 of stuff that was free) I went back to see Lut for lunch, and hung out at the nursing facility until after supper. Lut mostly sleeps or rests in between meals; he has no energy. :| He was able to stay awake for an episode of Defenders, so that was nice. Apart from that, I got some proofreading in. After dinner, I went home. I didn't really want to clean any more, but I decided to take care of the little remaining clutter on the floor of the front hall, which consisted of a desktop bookcase and its contents. It all needed to be dusted, but I got it cleaned up and stowed back on top of the table we use as a computer desk.


Oh, and I did four loads of laundry: one of my clothes and Lut's, and three for bedding. And also the duffel bag I found in Lut's closet, to get rid of the oatmeal dust I couldn't pour out. My bed is clean! \o/ 

While I was cleaning, I got a text from LawnWoman that she wasn't going to be able to make it today but she would be out tomorrow THIS TIME FOR SURE. XD

I am honestly much less pissy about LawnWoman because even though the other services also promised things they didn't deliver AT LEAST SHE TALKS TO ME. I will give so much slack to people who communicate with me via text or email, y'all. SO MUCH.

There will come a point where I will have to tell her I can't keep waiting, obv., but I can probably let that slide until I finish housecleaning. -_-

On Wednesday night, I'd ordered a Surface 3, for a few reasons:
  • I like having a laptop of my own, but I'd also like Lut to have a laptop, especially if I go to ProgPower. He's rarely alert and competent enough to use one, but he'd probably be able to at some point if I'm away for four straight days.
  • I'd like to have a drawing tablet
  • The Surface will be compatible with the art software I already own
  • Micah used a Surface 3 for a year or so and said it worked pretty well as a drawing device
  • Since the Surface 3 is a couple of years old now, it's pretty cheap.

I have Amazon Prime, but I paid for shipping because Amazon Prime would get it to me on 9/5 and $14 would get it to me on 9/1. I figured this way I'd have time to see how adequate it was as a laptop replacement. Bear in mind that my present laptop is also two or three years old, so I don't think I need the latest and greatest. My main concern is that I didn't like the Surface keyboard the one time I used one, several years ago. But that was years ago.

Along with the Surface 3, I ordered a case, a keyboard, and a stylus. On Thursday, Amazon told me that the case, keyboard, and stylus had shipped and would arrive on Friday.

...

Yeah, those are not gonna be a whole lot of use without the tablet.

Friday morning, Amazon told me they'd shipped the Surface 3 and it would arrive on 9/2. Okay, that's a little disappointing but not terrible.

Friday night, the peripherals still hadn't arrived. Well, I didn't need them before the tablet got here anyway.

When I got home Saturday night, I had a box from Amazon!

Just one box. It was a big box?

It had Surface 3! And also the shoes I'd ordered for Lut, which weren't supposed to get here until Tuesday. Well. Okay?

So I plugged in the Surface 3, which I am pleased to see uses a mini-USB cable just like my phone. I spent an hour or so getting it set up and updated and loading ArtRage and Clip Studio on it. Neither ArtRage nor Clip Studio works without a stylus. ArtRage almost works? I can kind of fingerpaint, but it treats "picking up finger and putting it back down elsewhere" as "you want to draw a straight line between those two points right?" Not so much. Clip Studio doesn't even try: it treats finger movements as "you want to drag the position of the canvas around" regardless of what tool I have selected.

So the only thing I've done with it so far is use it for reading in bed, instead of reading with my phone. It works pretty well as a proofreading device. I wouldn't want to type on its virtual keyboard, but I can peck out corrections as necessary, and unlike with my phone, it doesn't have any trouble with Google Docs.

My messenger bag has a little padded pocket which, it turns out, is a tablet pocket. The Surface fits it exactly. I am pretty sure once I get the case & keyboard, it won't fit. But if I keep the Surface to use as a laptop, I'll use a smaller bag and stop carrying the laptop in its messenger bag. Conveniently, I came across not one but THREE small messenger bags in Lut's closet. I suspect one of them will work very nicely for the Surface.

I still haven't addressed my "I need a new phone" issue. I am leaning more towards getting an older phone now, though. A refurb Galaxy S7 is less than half what a Galaxy S8 costs, for example, and it's still going to be a hundred times more powerful than my Galaxy S-We-Didn't-Need-Numbers-Yet.

Sunday Morning:

This morning I really didn't feel like cleaning any more, so I decided to go to Panera, where mostly I'm just writing about what I did yesterday. I'm also In a bit, I will head off to the nursing facility to see Lut. I want to give my Surface some more time to charge; I thought I had it charging while I typed this but whoops. It'd come unplugged from the wall.

Also, maybe I can get enough words written to finish one of the boss mobs I need in 4thewords.

Anyway, this is my vacation so far. I have played some Tricky Towers in the evening for fun. Tricky Towers has a pretty small playerbase so its matchmaking only works in the evening, which has the side benefit of meaning I can't fritter away my mornings on it.

But yeah, it's mostly decluttering, cleaning, visiting Lut, and proofreading. Yes, this is my idea of a vacation, and yes, I am very glad to be doing it instead of going to work. Also: yes, I am an adult.

There was a time when I questioned whether or not I really was grown-up, but nope. I am. I am doing all the adulting. SO MUCH ADULTING. Weeks and weeks of adulting. I used to think that I would be really bad at caretaking, if I ever had to take care of my parents when they got older. It's kind of nice to know that I am okay at it instead. Not perfect. But okay.
rowyn: (Default)
Thursday: Number of people who are supposed to come look at my yard and give me a quote: 2.
Number of people who actually come: 0.
Number of contacts I get: also 0.

I'm not even mad any more. Whatever. I will start on my own yard tomorrow night and do a few hours a day until it's done. I'm on vacation next week anyway, and even if I go to ProgPower that's only Wed-Sun that I'll be gone, at most.

Friday morning: one of the people who was supposed to come Thursday contacts me and says she had a friend pass away Thursday, but she'll come this afternoon. Well, that's a pretty good excuse. Okay.
Friday 1PM: Another text: "almost done with this property, will head towards yours soon.
Friday 6:15PM: I haven't heard from her since 1PM. I text to ask if she's been by, then drive home. Don't hear from her on the drive home. Welp. I feed the cat, and go out to do yardwork. I move out some of the giant fallen branches off the lawn, then figure I should see if the lawn tractor will start. It starts! I still am not sure how to make it mow, but hey, maybe this will work. I get the loppers and go out to clear the front porch of overgrowth so I can see if UPS delivered anything to my front porch.
While I am there, at about 7PM, LawnWoman appears! She made it! She is apologetic about the many delays. I show her around my massively overgrown lawn. She takes pictures. She gives me a quote. It is a lot, but it is still less than it would've cost to have a lawn service for the last three months, so eh, okay. I hire her.

She is supposed to come tomorrow with a crew. She may finish tomorrow, or might finish Sunday, depending how things go. Given how things have gone so far, I am not super convinced I will get a trimmed and mowed yard by Monday, but we'll see! Maybe.
rowyn: (Default)
So the lawn service I called on Friday night, Lawn Love Lawn Care, showed up on Monday night. The guy called me at 4:50 to tell me he'd be at the property in 10 minutes. I called him back at 5:30 (I do not get home until 7ish, generally) to ask what the cost would be. He couldn't give me a quote, he said. He talked to the office and they would call me later with a quote.

At 6:30, the office left an automated voicemail (the phone did not ring) saying that they'd emailed me a quote. They had not emailed me a quote. At 7PM, I called the office to ask what was going on. "Uh, we can't give you a quote yet, we have to transfer you to another service with different equipment, we'll get back to you ... later."

"Later when?"

"Well, you're scheduled for Wednesday?"

"..."

It's now Wednesday night and guess who has never gotten back to me. I don't know why "no" is so hard for businesses and "string you along until you are pissed off and furious and determined to badmouth them publicly" is so easy, but that's where we are. Lawn Love Lawn Care: NOT RECOMMENDED. Like, seriously, if you're not gonna do it just freaking SAY NO. Don't tell me you sent me a quote when you didn't. Don't tell me you'll get back to me when you won't. SAY NO. It's not THAT HARD.

Anyway, I give up. I will figure out how the riding lawn mower works and spend however long it takes getting the yard under control again and just see hardly anything of Lut and generally kill myself, because it's easier than wasting an unknown number of weeks looking for the mythical person who is willing to take my money and do it. Because hey, it's Wednesday, and even if I call someone tonight the earliest I will get a "we've looked at your property and will maybe contact you someday, who knows, about how much we would charge to do it on some other day but definitely not any time soon" is next Monday.

x_x

UPDATE:

In a triumph of hope over experience, I decided to call one more service, mostly because I am too upset to relax and I know I'm not going to have time to dent the horror that is my yard until the weekend anyway. Third service says they will come tomorrow and give me a quote.

And Lawn Love just texted me that they were "running late and would be there in the morning" which ... makes no sense? They still haven't told me what they'll charge, why do they need to send someone out AGAIN without giving me a quote? o_O

UPDATE 2:
So now Lawn Love is like "I'm a different person and I need to see it myself to give me a quote" so I guess they're a kind of crappy collective that doesn't trust each other enough to share pricing? Supposedly this one will actually give me a quote. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
rowyn: (sledgehammer)
So on Monday, I texted the lawn guy my coworkers hired, and he said he'd mow my lawn on Tuesday.

Tuesday, he texted after I got home (at 7PMish): "Too wet to mow today, I'll come tomorrow." Which was fair: my grass is like two feet tall and it had been raining, and mowing tall wet grass is pretty awful.

Wednesday: I got home at 7PM again, and the lawn wasn't mowed. Huh.

Thursday morning: T asked if Lawn Guy had texted me. "He texted me and said he couldn't get through the gate. And also that it looked like it hadn't been mowed in a year. I told him he should text you," she said.

"It's been two months, and yes two months of grass is horribly overgrown. You can get in through a gap on the south side of the lot." I told her. "I don't think he's going to do it."

"He'd better do it! We already paid him!"

"... Maybe you'd better get your money back," I said. But I texted Lawn Guy to explain about the entrance.

Lawn Guy: "All right, I'll mow it tomorrow."

Me: Okay then.

Friday, I get home at 6:30PM. My lawn is still untouched. Jerkface Lawn Guy still hasn't said boo to me. I am really angry about this. Like, okay, I get that you somehow run a mowing business without knowing how much work is involved with two months of neglected lawn and you didn't charge them enough, and you're not happy. But if that is the problem, WHY DID YOU TELL ME AFTER YOU SAW THE PROPERTY THAT YOU WOULD DO IT? Why didn't you just say "it's too much, I can't do it"? I went online and hired the first service I found that was still answering the phone at 7PM. They had the decency to tell me that they couldn't give me a final figure until they saw the property (after I explained it was overgrown: they gave me a quote based on the Google Maps size of the lot.) They're not going to come until Monday, so I still have a weekend of wondering if their operation will also prove to be "jerk around potential customers for X days until they give up on you". x_x

Paying people to do things for you is hard. I guess I could devote the entire weekend to dealing with my own lawn. Maybe if the new guys also turn out to be jerks, I will call in sick on Tuesday and do nothing but yard work. The problem is that not only does the lawn need to be mowed, but the only working lawn mower I have is the riding one and I am super-nervous about trying to use it. It's weird and finicky and sometimes gets stuck in pot holes in my lawn. Also, there are bushes and stuff that need to be hacked back before they eat my house, and also that prevent mowing because they partially cover the lawn (not enough to stop the plants from growing, just enough to keep a human from getting to them). My yard is just really terrible. I regret everything.

It's Saturday morning now and I was kind of thinking of waiting to see if Jerkface Lawn Guy would ever contact me, but he hasn't. So I texted him to tell him to give my friends their money back. Anyone wanna bet that after the new service deals with it, Jerkface tries to claim that he mowed and won't give a refund?
rowyn: (content)
People at work have said this a bunch of times, and of course I can't usually think of anything people can help with. But on Monday, one of my co-workers said it and I remembered a problem I meant to ask at work about. "Do you know any lawn services? I need to hire someone to take care of my yard."

"I don't, but T might? I know we have some customers who run services. I'll ask T."

T: "I use a service! I went to high school with him, he mows lawns for everyone I know. I texted him, here's his number. You can just text to ask him if he's free."

So I texted him, and he texted back an hour later with "sure, I'll mow it tomorrow, what's the address?" Okay, this is a little weird that he didn't say the price, but maybe he figures he'll quote one when he sees the property. I texted him my address.

A little later, F says "Hi, did you get any good pictures of the eclipse?"

"No, bbut I got some bad ones. Did you want to see?" I looked up to see my cubicle surrounded by beaming, conspiring co-workers. "Hi?"

"Hiiiiiii," they chorused back.

T: "So we all chipped in and we're gonna pay for the lawn service this time. It'll be a bit more than usual because it's been a while but don't worry, we're gonna cover it."

Awwww. ♥ All I really wanted was to be able to pay someone so I didn't have to worry about my yard any more, but that was extra sweet.

On a related note, I have a different "I just need someone else to research this because I am too brain-fried to do it" problem.

As I've noted before, I use a Samsung Galaxy S, a seven-year old model, because it has a horizontal physical keyboard and new phones do not. My Samsung's backspace key is dying, and I am facing the fact that getting another copy of seven-year-old phone is not a great plan. The software I've been using all along keeps upgrading itself and no longer runs well on my antique phone.

I can't get a new model of a phone with a horizontal physical keyboard built-in. But several people pointed out last time I mentioned this that you can get bluetooth thumbboards, some of which are set up so they'll clip to the phone or have a place for the phone to stand or something.

So: if anyone wishes to research this for me, I want to buy:

* A recent model of Android phone (released in the last six months or so, preferably)
* a horizontal thumbboard (ie, a physical keyboard of approximately the same size as the phone, operated by thumb) that will attach to said phone, so that I can use the thumbboard and see the screen easily while standing/walking/waiting in line/etc. So either phone or thumbboard needs to have a way to attach to the other so that I can hold and see both comfortably while using the thumbboard. I've tried vertical thumbboards and they are too narrow for me; I need one at least 4" wide.
* Preferably a five-row thumboard (ie, numbers on their own row)
* I am not fussy about phone size. Good battery life is a plus, but I am resigned to carrying a spare USB battery so not a big deal.
* Lots of memory also a plus. I would love a phone that could edit large Google Docs files, though I do not know if such a thing exists.

I do not need to be gifted this, I just don't have the brainpower to research which of these products work well together. o_o;;;

Thank you!

*

In other news, Lut has been noticeably more like himself on three of my last four visits. I hate to get my hopes up, and he is still nothing like baseline. But it's a positive direction and man I am a lot more kindly disposed to the skilled nursing facility. Whether they have any part in it or not. Please keep praying.

Unrelated, I decided to give myself a tiny daily writing quota just so I could feel good about beating it. So I set it at 200 words, which isn't enough to finish a book in a year, even. But it's tiny enough that I can do it in ten minutes instead of checking Twitter. I hit it today. And I do feel good about myself. Woo, stupidly small number of words! \o/

Editing proceeds apace. I am about 5/6ths through the penultimate pass. The last quarter of the book is my favorite part, so probably will finish this pass this month. The last pass is just "look for editing artifacts" so hopefully won't take as long. We'll see.
rowyn: (Default)
I've been a car owner for 15 days now. My car's name is Ardent Purr the Adoracar, because decision is for other areas of my life. As of the 14 day mark, I'd driven her about 500 miles. This seems like a ridiculously high number. I checked and it's below average for an American driver. Americans are crazy about driving.

Lut was supposed to be moved to a rehab facility today, but I just called the hospital and he hasn't been moved yet. Given that it's 4:30 now, I don't think it's happening now. Assuming it happens eventually, my miles-per-day will go down, because the new facility is a little closer. It's about the same time to get to, though, because it's all street driving instead of a highway option. If he does well in rehab and can come home, my average driving will go down a lot more. Please pray for us, things are not looking great. v_v

I am tired all the time now, even when I get a full eight hours of sleep. People keep saying "don't forget to take care of yourself" and I wish I could. I'm eating as much and as well as I did before Lut went to the hospital. The main thing I gave up was exercise. I do not have time to commute 90 minutes a day and work full time and see Lut for a few hours each day and still exercise.

I am still editing. I've hacked about 12,000 words out of the manuscript now. I am startled by how much of that is just "saying the same basic thing more concisely". I still need to add a few things, but I'm just changing stuff as I get to it at this point.

I've written a little fiction, but only a little. I miss the #PollRPG -- I was thinking about it when I did the first title poll this week -- but I am not sure what to do with that. Writing a story where people shape the results as I go means I can't build a buffer or plan out the story that much, and "write when I feel like it" doesn't work that well if I want an audience to follow it at the same pace. Editing and writing at my own pace works okay with the cancer lifestyle. Not so much on a schedule. :| Maybe I will do a poll about it at some point.
rowyn: (studious)
After posting yesterday's poll, I came up with a few new possible pairings. So I'm narrowing this down some and splitting out the Book 2 possibilities because there's more of them.

Poll #18700 Great Unnamed Fantasy Duology Part 2
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20


Which title do you like best? (These are for book 1)

View Answers

1. Silver Scales
17 (85.0%)

1. Dragon's Scales
1 (5.0%)

1. Warlock's Birthright
2 (10.0%)

Which title do you like best? (these are for book 2.)

View Answers

2. Golden Eggs
7 (36.8%)

2. Golden Birthright
3 (15.8%)

2. Golden Legacy
4 (21.1%)

2. Dragon's Birthright
1 (5.3%)

2. Dragon's Legacy
4 (21.1%)

How do you feel about articles in the title?

View Answers

Use definite article (The Silver Scales, etc.)
1 (5.3%)

Use indefinite article (A Warlock's Birthright, etc.)
2 (10.5%)

No articles (as titles are shown in poll questions above)
16 (84.2%)

Are polls fun?

View Answers

Yes
4 (22.2%)

HECK YEAH
4 (22.2%)

Please just pick your favorite title already like you're going to anyway
3 (16.7%)

I like to click it click it
7 (38.9%)

rowyn: (studious)
I am still poking along with final edits on Scales, aka my Great Unnamed Fantasy Duology. I am, oh, 60% through what'll be my second-to-last editing pass. The last pass will be to see if I added any mistakes on my second-to-last pass, because I'm still doing fairly significant revisions. Mostly taking out words. I've chopped out about 12,000 on this pass, a few thousand by deleting whole scenes, and the majority by rephrasing things more concisely and trimming unnecessary descriptions and such. A few words here, a few there, it adds up. I am long-winded, y'all. You knew that.

Anyway, I am still indecisive over book titles, so I am going to use my time-honored resolution method of LET'S DO A POLL.

Also debating whether or not I want to go to the trouble of serializing it, so I'll throw that in here.

Also, by "which title do you like?" I mean "which title would you be most likely to remember/look at the blurb for if you saw it?" Not being familiar with the story is no impediment to voting. :) If you don't have an account to vote in the poll, feel free to leave a comment, they're open to anonymous.

Poll #18695 Great Unnamed Fantasy Duology
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20


Which pair of titles do you like? (Pick as many as you like.) "1" would be the title for the first book, and "2" is the title for the second.

View Answers

1: A Dragon's Scales 2: A Dragon's Birthright
11 (61.1%)

1: Silver Scales 2: Golden Birthright
11 (61.1%)

1: Silver Warlock 2: Gold Dragon
5 (27.8%)

1: Warlock's Redemption 2: Dragon's Legacy
6 (33.3%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Rebirth
1 (5.6%)

1: Redemption of A Warlock 2: Legacy of a Dragon
4 (22.2%)

1: Scales 2: Birthright
5 (27.8%)

1: Redemption 2: Legacy
1 (5.6%)

Which pair of titles do you like BEST? (Pick one) "1" would be the title for the first book, and "2" is the title for the second.

View Answers

1: A Dragon's Scales 2: A Dragon's Birthright
4 (22.2%)

1: Silver Scales 2: Golden Birthright
10 (55.6%)

1: Silver Warlock 2: Gold Dragon
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock's Redemption 2: Dragon's Legacy
1 (5.6%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Rebirth
2 (11.1%)

1: Redemption of A Warlock 2: Legacy of a Dragon
1 (5.6%)

1: Scales 2: Birthright
0 (0.0%)

1: Redemption 2: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

Other Title suggestions:

If I serialized book one on Dreamwidth and my website, would you read it in that form?

View Answers

Yes, I prefer serials
3 (15.8%)

Yes, but I don't really care
10 (52.6%)

Nah, I prefer books to serials
3 (15.8%)

Ooh clickie
3 (15.8%)

rowyn: (content)
I had a long online conversation with some friends about "Ask" and "Guess" cultures (link is to a random article on the subject for those who aren't familiar with the concept). I'm going to use "Hint" here, because one person pointed out that (a) "Guess" is a misnomer because most people who grow up with people who do this are not guessing, they know and (b) "Guess" makes it sound objectively worse, and this is not an objective subject.* I don't know if "Hint" is a lot better, but I'll run with it for now.

* In the clash of another cultural concept: I prefer to refer to people by name when I'm talking about things they said. But I'm not doing that here because I don't know if the individuals involved want to be quoted by name or not. I also don't have convenient Twitter or LJ handles to refer to, which makes credit more complicated.

There are some things I've thought about this concept since I first heard of it. Like most dichotomies, it oversimplifies. Most people may lean one way or the other, but they are not going to be pure "Ask" or pure "Hint" about all things. Also, people vary in what they are Ask vs Hint about. You might be Ask-culture when it comes to visiting friends: "Would you like me to come over so we can play games?" but Hint-culture about birthday gifts: "I love Scharffenberger chocolate!" Or you might be the reverse: "It's always so much fun when we play games at your place!" and "Here's my Amazon wishlist!" You might feel it's unreasonable to ask directly for someone to email but normal to ask them to call, or the exact opposite, or that both are appropriate, or that neither are. People's inner rules about "this is too much to ask so I can only hint about wanting it" vary a lot.

My family is probably more "Ask" than "Hint": we are good with words and somewhat oblivious in general. But there are lots of things that I won't ask for. For example, when I realized that I needed a car, one of my friends pointed out that shipping a privately-bought used car halfway across the country was cheaper than the premium for buying a used car from a dealership. My parents have two cars and they basically don't use the second one: my mother almost never leaves the house without my father. It occurred to me that I could ask to buy their second car, which is a nice car in excellent condition because it's rarely driven. But I didn't, in part because asking for their car -- even asking to BUY their car at full market value -- felt like an unreasonable request. I told them I was planning to get a car and if they had offered to sell theirs, I'd've taken it. But they didn't, and I didn't ask, and that's fine.

One of the reasons that I am aware of how much I am not "Ask" culture is that I know someone who is. This is the person who inspired Wisteria, my character who is congenitally unable to take hints. And once I start thinking about all the areas where I expect hints or try to interpret them, I realize how much I rely upon them. For example, I was working with someone on a project where I hadn't heard from them recently, so I checked to make sure I'd responded to their last request and I had. But I hadn't gotten a reply, so I wanted to make sure now that they'd seen my email. We were still well-within the agreed-upon time frame so it wasn't a problem yes, but if spam filter or something had claimed my email, it would become one. I reached out on a different channel and said: "Oh hey, just wanted to make sure you got my email from [X Date]. No worries if you're busy and haven't gotten to the next step in the project yet, just making sure my email got through. :)" I included the second sentence specifically because I would react to the first sentence as "I expected to hear from you by now and I am deeply disappointed that you haven't finished the next step yet, what is your problem?" So even though the first sentence is at most a Hint, I still want to make sure that it has the right Hint-culture connotation of "I really do just want to make sure you got the email and are not waiting on me. I am not resentful or rebuking either your work or communication rate."

"Ask" and "Hint" cultures both encourage different failure modes. The failure mode of "Hint" is "passive-aggressive". Properly-done, Hint culture is designed to save face by giving both parties a graceful way out of a request. If you are eating chocolate, and I say "I love chocolate", and you say "Isn't it great?" and finish your chocolate without offering me any, then I can think "well, I didn't ask so you probably didn't realize I wanted some" and you can think "she didn't ask me for my chocolate so it's okay that I didn't share." If I simmer with resentment that you didn't offer to share your food when I Hint that I want to try it, or if you simmer with resentment that I Hinted that I want you to share, then we are Doing Hint Wrong.

The failure mode of "Ask" is "abrasive". This is the person who is "just being honest". The person who responds to "should I wear my blue dress or the red dress?" with "Those are both ugly". "Ask" culture is not a license to say anything because it's just words, and it's not a license to keep making the same request after being refused because "it doesn't hurt to ask." There is a point in Further Arrangements where Wisteria asks Justin to explain his reasoning, and Justin's reply amounts to "...because I'm an idiot." Wisteria doesn't accept this response: "My inability to follow your reasoning is my failure, not yours." This is an important facet of Wisteria for me: she can't properly participate in or understand Hint culture, and it frustrates her a lot -- but she doesn't believe Hint culture is innately inferior. It works for other people. It just doesn't work for her.

I have a lot of sympathy for people across the spectrum. I tend to assume the best about people, so if someone makes a request that I find too blunt, I think "they probably don't realize how it sounded and are not being pushy." If someone misses my hints, I assume they didn't notice them, because I know how often I miss hints. If I notice something that look like a hint to me, but I don't want to accede to the implicit request because I think it's unreasonable, I assume the hint was unintentional. Yo, guys, I am so bad at humaning. I'm gonna assume this is just as hard for the rest of you.
rowyn: (Default)
Health/Fitness
I stopped exercising in July. The time I used to use exercising, I now spend commuting to the hospital twice a day. There's a really stupid quote that goes something like 'if you don't make time for exercise you will find yourself one day making time to be sick'. I find myself thinking instead "since I used to make time for exercise it's much easier to find time for sickness by giving it up". -_-

I'd rather be exercising, to be honest.

Lut is a little better physically and somewhat worse mentally than he was when I took him to the ER on June 30. He is still at the hospital, and in a regular ward instead of the PCU, where he was all last week. So that's an improvement. If he continues to improve, the hospital will try to place him in a skilled nursing facility again. I don't know when or if they'll succeed at that.

Writing
I wrote, I dunno, a thousand words of Demon Hunter in July. It's not really on my priority list any more but sometimes I do it anyway. I kept my #4thewords streak by using up my stockpile of stempos (in-game items that allow you to skip days) because I forgot or didn't have time to write on several days. I also wrote a lot of stuff about Lut and health care that I'm not going to share.

The Business of Writing
I cut about 9,500 words out of the first half of Scales. I am pretty much done cutting words out of the first half, although having cut that much stuff I really need to read it again to look for editing artifacts. But at this point I'm comfortable saying "I just want to fix things that are actual errors", I think. For the first half.

I am still looking at trimming the second half, and also making some more changes based on feedback. Work on it hasn't ground to a halt despite health crisis, but I'm not dumping any deadlines on myself at this point.

Socializing
I haven't socialized much outside of the hospital, but I have seen Corwyn a couple of times and we did hang out for an hour or two after I took him to test drive the Corolla. Also, I went out for a couple of meals with Lut's family when they visited, and I talked to them. So less hermit-like than usual, really.

Goals from Last Month
I had "help Lut get better" down, which in retrospect was unduly optimistic. I visit him at the hospital before and after work during the week (this is why I got a car) and I spend several hours each weekend day with him. I still go home to sleep, because I have a cat and also the one time I tried to sleep at the hospital was traumatic. I am trying to help him. I don't know what I can do that actually would help, though.

I looked into buying a car, and actually bought one on 8/3 so good job there.

Card benefits services sent me a document saying they'd settled the claim and that Enterprise had acknowledged it was settled, so I think that's finally over. Four months and many emails later. Meh.

Goals for coming month
Get adoracar registered and real license plates put on her.
Visit Lut in hospital or wherever else he goes, until he can come home.
Upload The Moon Etherium print edition (this is basically done, but I found another typo to ask Alinsa to fix. Bleah, typos)

Everything else is extra.
rowyn: (smile)
I have acquired New Car. Many thanks to everyone who offered car-buying advice!

It is a 2017 Toyota Corolla LE, chosen for its combination of safety features, size (Lut does not fit well in a subcompact, which is what I'd've bought otherwise), reliability, and price. Telnar offered to walk me through the process of car research via Consumer Reports. I made sad pitiful noises at him, and asked if I could just turn the puzzle upside down and see what the answer was instead. So he did the research and gave me a few options and the reasoning behind them.

After settling on a car, I did go through Consumer Reports myself. Dealing with dealerships online was surprisingly painless. There are three Toyota dealerships in my area.

Dealership # 1: "We have two Toyota Corollas in stock. Call us to find out about pricing."
Dealership #2: "We have three Toyota Corollas in stock. We want over $1,000 more for them than Consumer Reports, which we know you were just looking at, thinks they're worth."
Adams Toyota: "We are researching what we have on the lot and will get back to you shortly!"

Based on this, Telnar formulated a sophisticated gameplan for pitting dealerships against each other to get the best price, which included "broaden your scope to other near-ish cities as necessary." While we were trying to get a price out of dealership #1, Adams Toyota emailed me:

"We'll sell you a Toyota Corolla LE for $500 less than what Consumer Reports says is fair, and slightly less than the average price for your area."

At that point, I just said, "That sounds good and they didn't make me dicker for it. Sold."

I called my local friend Corwyn and asked if he would come substitute for Lut in a test drive of the car: that is, sit in the passenger seat and make sure he fits. Corwyn is taller than Lut and of a similar build, although obviously Lut, with two compression fractures in his spine, has more flexibility issues. Still, he could give me an idea.

The Corolla is snug for Corwyn, but he does fit. I told Charly, the salesman, that I would take it. I picked out a black one, because they had several colors and if you could get black why wouldn't you get black?* I could've saved seventy-five dollars or so by getting a white one that came with cheaper floor mats**, but I decided I was willing to pay a slight premium for black, after all.

It's possible that if I'd been more dithery, or if I'd waited a month or two until they were more desperate to make room for 2018s (they had a lot of 2017 Toyota Corolla LEs in stock), I could've gotten a better price, but I am content.

I made the decision to purchase on July 27, and requested a 401(k) "loan" the same day. Name notwithstanding, this is not an actual loan. There is no approval or qualification process: I ask for it, I get it. In effect, it is me taking the money out of my 401(k) and formally promising to pay myself back (at 3% interest). It's not like a margin loan, where I'd pay interest to a third party while my money remained invested. I'm paying myself. If I failed to pay myself back, then I'd have to pay the government the early withdrawal penalty and taxes for the money I took out of the 401(k), but there's no collections process involved. It's all my own money.

The next day, the 401(k) people told me it would take 3-5 business days to fund it. I emailed this to Charly: "So I should be back between 8/1 and 8/4, depending on whether or not yesterday counts as the 1st business day."

At 9:30am on 8/2, Charly emailed me for a status update. I hadn't heard that the loan had been funded yet, but I work at my bank so I checked my account.

The funds had arrived 30 minutes prior. I went to the teller line to get a cashier's check (they would've taken a personal check, but I don't know where my checkbook is -- who writes check? -- and I work at a bank so cashier's checks are easy and free) and emailed Corwyn to get a ride. By 10:30, we were on our way to the dealership. Having made the decision, I was really impatient to finish the whole process.

Which still took like two hours, even though I was paying in cash. Buying a car is complicated.

I returned the rental that evening, with oddly mixed feelings. Yes, it is cool to finally have my own car, but I've been renting from the same office at Enterprise for eight years or so. They all know me. And up until now, when I need a car every day, it was a very cost-effective way of handling my transportation needs. I am kind of sad not to be doing it any more. Even now, I wonder if I should've gone with a short-term car lease, or some kind of arrangement where I'd have a car for several months, until Lut is stable and at home, and then go back to renting a car as needed.

But owning a car does save time, vs going to the rental place and picking one up, and returning it afterwards.

And the Corolla is beautiful and I love her. As soon as I purchased her, I stopped being practical about her and became immediately sentimental. I may end up as one of those people who washes their car every month. I'm sorry.

She is a much fancier car than I would have acquired, left to my own devices. She doesn't have any extras (beyond the pricer floor mats), but lots of things come standard on a Toyota Corolla LE. The standard things that made me pick this model of car are safety features, like pre-collision detection and automatic braking.

Some things that I thought were just safety features turn out to be nice features for general driving. For instance, its cruise control is coupled with a radar system that detects when a car is in front of you and slows down accordingly. This makes cruise control so much more useful. Even when the road is crowded, I can leave cruise control on and the car will automatically adjust the speed whenever someone pulls in front of me or I catch up to someone moving slower. I use cruise control for the nine-mile highway drive from my home to the hospital, which I've never bothered doing on any other model of car. It's nice.

It also has a USB port, so I can plug in my iPod for music without needing any intervening doodads, which is convenient. And I can charge devices off of it with just a USB cable.

Those are the main extra things that I routinely use. It has a bunch of other doodads, like it syncs with my phone to take phone calls. I am honestly not sure this is a great feature, since even hands-free phone calls are a distraction when driving. But Charly set it up so it's there for when the hospital calls while I'm driving. Until the bluetooth thing randomly fails, which is my usual experience with bluetooth.

Of course, I took pictures of her:

Shiny New Car

With lens flaaaare

I want to get decorative magnetic decals for her, but it may be too much effort to find/make the kind of thing I want. I'd like a trim design similar to City of Heroes' "tribal" pattern, to curve along fenders and the bottoms of the doors. I haven't seen anything like what I want. A bunch of die-cut flowers, though. Maybe I will bling her out with those.

I haven't settled on her name yet (of course she is going to have a name). I am debating between Purr (after one of my black dragons in Flight Rising) and Ardent (after The Moon Etherium protagonist.) So I'll put in a poll for her name!

Poll #18661 Name that Car!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13


What should I call her?

View Answers

Purr
7 (58.3%)

Ardent
5 (41.7%)

Write-in options:



* I may have been ruined for other car colors at a young age by K.I.T.T.
** I don't know why car floor mats are expensive, but they are.
rowyn: (Default)
A Queer Trade and Rag and Bone, by K.J. Charles:
I'd thought that one of these was a short that was the prelude to a book, but it turns out that they're both shorts, maybe novelette or short novellas. They share a setting with her Charm of Magpies books, but involve new protagonists and a new romance. Like most of the Magpies books, there's a fantasy-action main plot and an M/M romance subplot. Because these are short, the romance is underdeveloped, especially in A Queer Trade. It's more about sexual attraction than connection. The second story, Rag and Bone, felt more convincing romance-wise. I did like that (a) it's a mixed-race relationship and (b) this aspect is understated. Another thing that I liked: it didn't give the men stereotypical sex roles based on relative size. A common trope in M/M romance is to have one protag be tall and muscular and one protag short and pretty and the tall guy is the top and the small one is the bottom and I am SO OVER this. SO OVER. And in this one you have a gay couple that doesn't like anal sex so they do other stuff and it's fun and I liked seeing some variety in preferences. Anyway, I enjoyed reading them overall. 7.5

Provoked, by Joanna Chambers
This was marketed to me as an M/M historical romance, but it's thin on romance and doesn't have an HEA. The main plot is the impoverished attorney protagonist helping the brother of a convicted client track down the government agent that entrapped him. The "romance" subplot is a couple of sex scenes between the attorney and a rich sexy Scottish lord he barely knows. Both men intend the sex to be a one-off, both times. Their few conversations are light on romantic connection and focus more on a kind of resentment of each other over the mutual attraction. The attorney is the only PoV character and at least half the chapters don't even have him interacting with his "love interest". As a romance, it was severely lacking. The entrapment plot was all right but didn't really engage me . Also, the main and subplots were linked together in a contrived way.

There are some sequels starring the sexy Scottish lord and broke lawyer, and I'd guess the last of these has the HEA one expects of a romance. I dunno, since I kinda regret getting the first one and am not getting more. It was okay, I guess. Competently written. I liked the attorney when he wasn't being boringly self-loathing. The attitudes on sexuality felt ahistorical. There's this notion that standard 19th-century attitudes should be "like Fred Phelps only more so" and it's not true to the period. The idea that sexuality is something you are, not something you do, is a 20th century one. Yes, sodomy was illegal and sinful and having people be horrified by it is reasonably in-period. Having people assume that someone who has a same-sex sexual encounter, ever, can never be attracted to the opposite sex, is not in-period. Anyway, Provoked made the KJ Charles stories look much better by comparison, though. This is like a 5.5.
rowyn: (worried)
Lut is still at the hospital. He's in a regular room now, and he's off the IV and the monitoring equipment, which is nice (no more wires to worry about every time he moves). He's been eating on his own. He gets up a couple of times a day, with assistance, and sits in the hospital room recliner or stands by the window for a little bit.  Other than that, he mostly sleeps or tries to sleep. His back hasn't been hurting as much and he hasn't been needing a lot of pain meds, which is good.

His mood is good under the circumstances. He knows where he is and he's polite, patient, and appreciative. Conversations with him don't work very well. I can't tell if he's having delusions or just trying to tell me about a dream or a game he used to play or something. Physically, he's better than when I took him to the ER 3 weeks ago, but I don't think the hospital is really helping his mental state. And he's not reading or playing with a computer or any of his normal activities, because he's too tired even for things he can do while lying in bad. At most, he'll watch a show, and he doesn't have attention for even that most days.

Case management at the hospital is trying to place him at a skilled nursing facility. He is to get rehab there and then he'll be able to come home when he's better able to take care of himself. Placement at a skilled nursing facility is hard, because of some combination of insurance, Lut's particular needs, available space at facilities, and probably some other things I'm not thinking of.

I have some lists of good car models for my needs and the probable prices for them. I have not gone shopping for one yet. I should probably do that this week. I kind of have the feeling I will go with the first dealership that has a reasonable car on the lot and doesn't seem like total scum. I do not have high expectations.
rowyn: (worried)
Lut's siblings came in last weekend, all four of them. I suspect I appreciated this more than Lut did. Bone marrow cancer causes a lot of fatigue: it's not just "he's in pain so he doesn't sleep well so he's always tired", as I thought before I brought him to the hospital. He just doesn't have a lot of energy. Maybe five or six spoons total for the day. Interacting with someone for a few minutes takes a spoon. It's hard.

On Saturday, I asked them to look at skilled nursing facilities for me. They ran all over the city, looking at the ones on the printout the hospital had provided. They were kind of horrified by most of them. They got to the last one on the list too late for a tour, and they told me I should look at it because it looked nice based on its website.

I went to that one and it looked good in person too: clean, well-lit, cheerful, good facilities. I went to the one his siblings liked the best of the ones they saw, and thought it was pretty good too. It was a hard choice for me, because the facility the siblings hadn't toured was a newer, nicer building with better grounds, but the rooms were smaller and most of them were "semi-private": they'd share a bathroom and a little foyer-hall with an adjacent room, and only a curtain separated them from the little foyer. It wasn't as a bad a shared room: there was a real wall between the two rooms. But a curtain is not nearly as good as a door when it comes to blocking sound. The more run-down facility had larger rooms and they were all private.

I tried to consult Lut on it on Monday, but he was too exhausted to give an opinion and the hospital wanted one in the next few hours. So I picked the nicer facility. I can hope he'll luck into a private room? I don't know how this will work with insurance. They are crazy expensive without.

At the hospital, they moved him from the ICU back to the regular ward last night. He doesn't seem to me like he's ready to be discharged to anywhere, but he's off the IV and they've detached all of the other wires they've had him hooked up to. They didn't even have him on a heart monitor when I saw him this morning. The case manager in the ICU thought he might be discharged this week. I don't know how long he'll be at the skilled nursing facility, except that it is short-term care, not long-term. The idea is that he gets rehab there, and then he can come home.

He doesn't seem to be in as much pain now, but he is exhausted every time I see him. Even when we get him sitting upright in a chair, he dozes off in a matter of minutes. If the chemotherapy works, he'll regain some energy, but I don't think rehab on its own is going to get him any more spoons.

I don't know what to say. People keep asking me how he's doing and it is exhausting to try to answer. Badly, but stable? He's better than last week but not better than when I took him to the ER. The oncologist is optimistic about the chemotherapy. He gets his second treatment today.

Prayers and well-wishes still appreciated. Thank you all for the car advice, too. *hugs*
rowyn: (studious)
When I was in second or third grade, my teacher gave us an assignment: write instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for someone who's never made one or even seen what one looks like.

After we turned in our assignments, my teacher then followed our instructions, one after another.

If you've never seen this lesson, it is mainly a lesson in assumed knowledge. The teacher's goal is "if there is any way to do it wrong, do it that way." If the instructions tell you to put peanut butter on one side, bear in mind that bread slices have six possible sides. If the instructions don't specify to take the bread out of the bag, try to make it with bread still in the bag. If they don't say to open the jars, put the entire jars in between bread slices. If they don't tell you to pick up a utensil, try using the utensil without picking it up. Etc.

The lesson works best if the person assembling the sandwiches is very creative about what they can imagine getting wrong. It is hard to cover all the possible ways one could get it wrong, because we are well-trained on how to do it right.

My workplace decided to do this as a team-building exercise: remote associates would write instructions, and those as a main location would assemble sandwiches. I wasn't going to participate: I remembered how hard it was to do when I was seven. But another associate asked to partner with me, so, okay.

I wrote instructions.

These are not perfect instructions. I could find ways to mess them up. (I really phoned in how to open a bag, sheesh. And I didn't explain how to hold a knife or spoon, although at least I specified 'in hand".) I was personally a little disappointed that partners in the exercise were not incentivized to screw up the directions. Anyway, I did win the contest with these. For maximum entertainment value, imagine what one could mess up following this anyway, or why I'd need to be this specific.

How to make a PB&J
  1. Make sure the following items are assembled within easy reach, on top of a counter. (If you do not have a counter available, substitute a table throughout these directions): Table knife, Spoon, Jelly in jar, Peanut butter in jar, Loaf of sliced bread, Dinner plate
  2. Set plate directly in front of you on counter.
  3. If bread is in a bag, open bag. How to open bag will depend on exact bag, but may, eg, involve untwisting a tie from one end and pulling the plastic apart at the top of that side so that it is open on one end.
  4. Remove two slices of bread from open bag.
  5. Place slices of bread on plate, side by side.
  6. Close bag for loaf of bread.
  7. Hold peanut butter jar by its body, cap-side-up, in your off hand.  (ie, in left hand if you are right-handed).  Your fingers should curve around the side of the jar and your thumb curve around the side in the other direction.
  8. With your free hand, take hold of cap.
  9. Unscrew cap from peanut butter jar by turning the cap counter-clockwise.
  10. Place peanut butter jar cap upside down on counter.
  11. Pick up knife by its handle in free hand.
  12. Insert blade of knife into through the opening in the peanut butter jar created when you removed cap.
  13. Use blade of knife to scoop out a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter jar.  Quantity does not need to be exact.
  14. Put peanut butter jar down on its bottom on counter.
  15. Pick up slice of bread in your free hand.
  16. Hold slice of bread so that one face is against your palm and the other side faces up.
  17. Place the side of the knife that has peanut butter on it against upper face of the bread slice in hand.
  18. Slide the side of the knife with the most peanut-butter on it over the bread in such a way that the peanut butter is spread over one face of the bread slice in hand.
  19. If there is significant peanut butter on other side of knife blade, repeat step 18 with the other side.
  20. Cover upper face of bread slice in hand evenly with peanut butter in a thin layer, 1/16th to 1/8th inch thick, depending on how you like your sandwich.
  21. When almost all peanut butter from knife is on bread face, place base of knife against edge of bread, with the rest of the blade above the face of bread that has peanut butter.
  22. Drag blade down along edge of bread, from base to tip of blade, to scrape off any remaining peanut butter onto the face of the bread that already has peanut butter.
  23. Repeat #22 for other side of knife blade if there's still peanut butter on it.
  24. Replace slice of bread in your hand in an empty space on the plate, with the peanut-butter-side up.
  25. Put knife in sink, dishwasher, or other spot appropriate for dirty utensils.
  26. Pick up peanut butter cap in your dominant hand.
  27. In your free hand, hold peanut butter jar by its body, cap-side-up, in your off hand.  (ie, in left hand if you are right-handed).  Your fingers should curve around the side of the jar and your thumb curve around the side in the other direction.
  28. Place cap right-side-up against top of peanut butter jar.
  29. Screw cap onto peanut butter jar by turning the cap clockwise.
  30. Place peanut butter jar bottom-side down on counter.
  31. Open jelly jar, using steps 7-10 but with jelly jar instead of peanut butter jar.
  32. Pick up spoon by its handle in free hand.
  33. Insert bowl of spoon into through the opening in the jelly jar created when you removed cap.
  34. Use bowl of spoon to scoop out a tablespoon of jelly from the jar.  Quantity does not need to be exact.
  35. Put jelly jar down on its bottom on counter.
  36. Pick up the empty slice of bread in your free hand.
  37. Hold slice of bread so that one face is against your palm and the other side faces up.
  38. Place the bowl of the spoon against upper face of the bread slice in hand, with the jelly in the bowl of spoon facing the bread.
  39. Slide the bowl of spoon over bread so that the jelly approximately covers the upper face of the bread slice in hand.
  40. Use back of spoon to finish spreading jelly neatly over upper face of bread slice in hand.
  41. When almost all jelly from spoon is on bread face, place base of spoon bowl against edge of bread, with the rest of the bowl above the face of bread that has jelly.
  42. Repeat 40 for back of spoon if there is significant jelly left on it.
  43. Put spoon in sink, dishwasher, or other spot appropriate for dirty utensils.
  44. With free hand, pick up slice of bread with peanut butter on it so that the empty face is against your palm and the peanut butter side faces up.
  45. Align slice of bread with jelly on it against the slice of bread with peanut butter on it, so that the sides covered in peanut butter and jelly face each other and the two pieces of bread are lined up into a single square. If the instructions worked, this is your PB&J.
  46. Put PB&J on clear section of dinner plate. 
  47. Follow steps 26-30, but with jelly jar instead of peanut butter jar.
  48. You are now done.
rowyn: (studious)
My June update got overrun by July being completely awful. June itself actually wasn't bad, though.

Health & Fitness
I was visiting my parents for 9 days, and didn't get my normal exercise then. I did some walking with my father, though, when it wasn't too hot in the morning and/or I got up early enough. that it wasn't hot yet.

Writing
I wrote some new scenes for Scales and Birthright, but didn't work on any other new fiction. I kept my 4thewords streak going mostly with writing about my life, and mostly things dull enough that I didn't post them to LJ. I didn't keep a word count for anything for June.

Oh, I did write three Poll RPG installments in June. I forgot about those.

The Business of Writing
I finished editing Scales for betareaders and got most of the way through editing Birthright.

I also hired an artist to do the cover for Scales (I will hire her to do the cover for Birthright as well, but one thing at a time.). I am inordinately proud of myself for actually doing the Scary Thing and talking to artists I don't know. Alinsa helped a lot by looking at art for me and sharing the best stuff, and making some preliminary contacts. ♥ It was hard! But I did it, and the artist has since completed amazing preliminary sketches and I can't wait to see the color tests.

Art/Other
I don't think I did any drawing in June.

Gaming
I played Scrabble with my brother and his wife while all three of us were visiting my parents. My brother did not outscore us both combined, which is pretty much as close to victory as one gets against my brother in Scrabble.

Socializing
I went to NC for nine days. I spent the first weekend mostly visiting Kagetsume, Sophrani, and Boingdragon. We watched "Rogue One" in Kage's home theatre, which somehow none of us had seen yet, not even Kage who'd bought it on Blueray. It was as grim as I'd expected, but pretty good. We also went to see "Wonder Woman" in Imax 3D. I haven't seen a movie in 3D since "Avatar", but didn't mind giving it another try. I remain indifferent to 3D. It doesn't particularly bother me, but it doesn't enhance the experience at all, and the glasses are vaguely uncomfortable. I enjoyed "Wonder Woman", although not with the overwhelming love of most people. Maybe I'm just not good at overwhelming love for media any more. I dunno.

I spent Monday through Friday low-key visiting my parents. This mostly consisted of watching a little TV with my father, watching some tennis with my mother,, and playing with my mother's spare laptop in the recliner in her office while she played WoW at her desk. We went out to dinner a couple of times too. My father likes to go out to eat every three days. They stock up on leftovers at the restaurant, and my father will eat those for the next few days until they go out again.

On the last weekend, my brother and his wife C came to visit. This was my first time meeting C (they got married last year with a very small ceremony). She was delightful. My impression of her is no doubt bolstered by the fact that she has read and likes my books, but I'm sure I would love her anyway. ♥ On Sunday, we made strawberry shortcake with Bisquick shortcake and C's hand-whipped whip cream. I can report that this is still delicious. :9 I ate way too much on this trip.

I was worried about Lut while I was gone, and called him several times.. This was before I took him to the ER, but I was already concerned that his health had taken a turn for the worse. He had assured me before I left that he would be fine and I should go and he was not willing to go to a doctor. He seemed to be managing okay without me, although the power went out for 48 hours and that sucked a lot.

As a way of life, "stoic" really has its downsides, y'all.

Happiness
I think I was happy? I can't remember. I had a good vacation. It was so low-key that I felt like I should be getting more editing done and felt vaguely guilty about that, but it was still good.

Other
Card benefit services emailed that they'd settled with the rental car company over the minor accident back in March, and they were just waiting for the rental car company to send a letter acknowledging the matter was closed. Which they will then send to me, I think. Anyway, this is finally almost done so hopefully I can take "poke card benefits and rental car co to talk to each other until this over" off my list of goals in August. But it's not done yet.

The nadir of this experience hit when the rental car company mailed me a letter to complain that I had never responded to any of their attempts to contact me, and I needed to pay them for the damage in the next ten days.

I responded with "I guess you lost all of the emails I sent you about this, and also all of the emails that you sent me in response to my emails. And also the physical letter you sent me in response to one of my emails. HERE ARE COPIES OF EVERYTHING. Let me know if you need anything else that you lost!"

-_-

That was much more polite than I felt about the whole matter.

Goals for coming month
Help Lut get better
Look into buying car
Poke about insurance claim if necessary

If I finish anything else, great. If not, oh well. I have been doing a little editing this month, mostly because re-reading my books to look for typos is one of the few things I have sufficient brain for. I've been spending a lot of time at the hospital watching Trask doze, so I've had some time to do that.
rowyn: (worried)
I went through Lut's email and found some email addresses from 2009 for family members. I tried emailing, and reached one of his brothers and one of his sisters. They contacted the rest of his family for me, so his family knows now. Three of his siblings are going to come on Friday to see him.

He's looking better this morning. Still delusional, but he's calm, articulate, and willing to accept assistance. He's breathing better and when he dozes off it looks more like actual sleep. I don't know if this will be a sustained upwards trend, but I'm hopeful.

He started chemotherapy on Tuesday. He gets one treatment per week for two weeks, then one week off, then repeat. In 6-9 weeks we'll know if it's working. The chemotherapy includes a steroid, and he's on an antiviral because the chemotherapy weakens his immune system. He's also getting Halidol for his neurological issues. And an antibiotic because he was running a fever for a little while.

For my hospital-related transportation problem: I am thinking about buying a new car, rather than a used one. I can afford it: I only live like a poor person, I am not actually poor. I don't have enough ready cash to buy one, annoyingly. I may look into getting a loan against my 401(k), to avoid paying third-party interest or early withdrawal penalties. I don't know if this will qualify or not.

Recommendations on cars are welcome. Pretty much all I want is a good cost-per-mile figure and cheap to insure. I do not need or want any fancy extras, or a sporty car or an SUV or anything. I am perfectly happy with small, reliable and efficient. -_-

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