Oh my, September came and went for sure. Outside we have our protests, but autumn , so it always felt to me, is a season for introspection.

Maybe, someday, I'll share what I've found.

Meanwhile, as the French say, excuses are made to help yourself, so here: since the beginning of September my dad moved in with the hubby and me. All's well, though maybe a bit small in the housing department. Let's give it at leas two months more before making purse-changing decisions about size and modalities of housing.
Between this new way of living and the new fencing season, in the club as well as in the fencing federation, I've little energy left to type. So I'm niggling away at the things that I always wanted to do with Dreams of Cold Stone, with images and font.

Who knows, one day I'll run out of excuses and I'll have no choice but to luluize the bloody manuscript.

And the smoke from the fire is still rising

For years it's been creeping up on us, not by loony right-wing landslide wins, but the inch-by-inch but nevertheless solid shift from left to center, where even treehuggers who should look under every stone for any and all solution to this troubled Earth's problems cling to one Holy Writ and proclaim all other freethinkers heretics. Too much energy spent on climbing up to the next level, instead of pulling others less fortunate up to ours.

1984 and other horrendous mirrors were all the buzz last decade (another decade already? oh, how time flies!), and we've had a good laugh and patted ourselves on the back: look, with such messages abound in our culture we've staved off the dangers for sure.

But all the time it's been creeping, lads, not in our faces like 1984, but inch-by-inch like it always goes. And one day we'll wake up to find ourselves arrived at that next level, staring out our window at the "blessed" Morec spire and gathering each morning at the apartment block's warden unit to submit to the routine social check government demands of us. Are our shoes neat and shiny? Do we make enough money to live where we live? Do we toe the government's line?

Inch-by-inch, is that how the 80s happened? Reign of fear and apathy, rule of propriety and hypocrite cleanliness? Then where are those who'd protect our rights, every thing our ancestors obtained, remind those idiots of their promises, hold them to the law? I search the left for signs of renewal, but only find career opportunists, nobody willing to rock the boat.

I live in a little peanut country not exempt from riots, on that line where businesses seek cheap rent only to poke their leased C300s in the faces of families of at least 5 trying to survive on 2 paychecks (and lo and behold they are surprised when they get mugged and need to hire bodyguards!). I look out from this little peanut country into the world and hope people so hurt by the system, so insulted by the unabashed flaunting of riches*, find the energy not only to lift a brick from the pavement, but in the end to be the source of something new, a left to the left-which-is-now-center. Doubt we'll find many Caucasian faces amongst them, but that's okay. You don't need to be pasty-faced to jape, to blow up Parliament.

And look it has already begun...

*as if all bling comes with the guarantee of invulnerability and unstealability. When exactly did Modesty crawl into the corner of the room to die?

P.S.: Did you see that lot, how the other flinched but spoke no less honest of the flatscreens he pinched; did you see how he timidly glanced at his 16-year-old fellow who pinched nappies and a whole set of Johnson's for his kid? Ha, and they say there's no honour among thieves. In all that violence and destruction, all the yelling of pro and con, of Law please protect our Greed, of opportunists grabbing a quick buck (what and we don't cheat the hell out of taxes?), of bricks flying from one side to the other's glass house, there at least one blinding flash of sense: she lives and breathes yet, Modesty, hoorah!

Of mice and men

Cow Watching
Don't ask me how, for I honestly don't know, but I found this article on escape characters while strolling through Wikipedia:

In computing and telecommunication, an escape character is a character which invokes an alternative interpretation on subsequent characters in a character sequence. An escape character is a particular case of metacharacters.
I couldn't help reading it as a writer (In writing, an escape character is...) and immediately something went "aha!" Into the the baby's toy bag it goes, for somewhere, somewhen I'll actually start working on the New (and as of yet still nameless) Project.

Last month two stragglers stumbled into my gmailbox, a year after the sockbooze was sent. Both made me laugh:

Analysis of the first (one year later, nearly to the day): opens with a polite but impersonal greeting and explanation how the sockbooze got lost and why the necessity of the impersonal answer (fair enough) and then style-breaches right into a warmer and more personal explanation why it's a pass (schizo much?)

Analysis of the second (13 months later): three short lines that rollercoast from sorry > spam > catching up > resubmit whenever open again ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? HAHAHA

Anyways, with all my sheep returned, I find it's nearly a year after I said "I'll wait till summer and then we'll see..." The sockbooze returned Dreams of Cold Stone to my attention, and I'm weeding through it for the last time (Really. Promise!) Cutting down some more kudzu. Fluffing up and patting down the eiderdown. And then we'll see for real.

Stuff of life
Two weeks ago changes were in the air.
I quit my job (but I've already landed a new job, I start on Monday, wahay!)
But more importantly: my dad had a thrombosis-stroke, which all-in-all could have turned out far worse for a 75-year old. For now he lost the left hand side of the world (irremediable), and processing speed (remediable). We're all happy/lucky there are no mobility problems. And while after revalidation he probably could live independent (with some ambulant care), we (his not-living-in-girlfriend, my brother and me) have decided his place is too far away and too big to let him return there, to live on his own.
Factoring into that story, is how my dad always has had a thing of finding stuff in the street and keeping it for when it comes in handy, a bolt, a screw... A cute and quaint little tick, you know? Dad always had a thingy if you needed a thingy. And economic household tips, like keeping a couple of water kettles on the stove during winter, which means you don't have to spend extra gas/money on warm water to do the dishes. Cute and quaint, but he was born in 1935, after all, and the war and the consequent scarcity must have made a serious impression on a child who'd become the eldest of seven.

So, two weeks ago we went to his house, mainly to clean out the fridge, since he wasn't going to return soon. For me it had been some time ago, see, I usually see dad when he and I are visiting my brother's. My parents divorced ages ago, so it's sorta, I keep an eye on mom, and my brother keeps an eye on dad. After we decided he wasn't going back to the house, we kept on going to start cleaning up and putting some order into his affairs. From the first day we've been utterly baffled by the OCD levels of hoarding, and how extreme a weakness he has for promotional sales. Seriously, you could keep whole battalions going for months on the clothing, food, wood and tools we've found there. You could stock a nuclear cellar for a large family, cheap shirts and sheets still wrapped in foil included. It shames me, in a shoulda woulda coulda way and makes me feel horrible horrible horrible. So there, that needed off my chest.

boots :: walking right out of this valley of the shadow of death

Breakfast with Violent Femmes was just what the doctor ordered, and while I'm not quite at that point in time and space where Charlie the Antipope is, I've decided to kiss off the grownupseriousbusiness world for the day, pull on my boots and get out my machete, and deal with some literary kudzu.

Random stuff

Sometimes betrayal comes blowing in like a super tornado, unexpected and from the one corner of the universe you thought yourself safe from.

No wait. People are who they are, me myself included. The world nowadays is a lot about change, and evolution and transformation. Maybe to forget we're just a bunch of meatpuppets coded to use each other as punching bags.

You know... I was going to say a lot of stuff here, about how events shape people and people shape events, and delve into the Strange History that Shaped My World, but then I realized, my dearest digiblips, that it's non of your business anyway, and people will still be dying of hunger in Africa or some such.

So there. The end.


So, I'm back, dearest digiblips, from a wonderful long trip in the underbelly of the world *shrug* what can I say, I fell off the edge. Very super short update?

- even if it's still spring, it's actually summer. fleas and ticks, and pollen, and it's a jungle out there
- reading, reading, reading like a maniac
- still no government in poor old Belgium, while politicians are still at it, beating the zombified horses
- the world remains a scary place, even if Al Qaeda lost its sugar daddy: North Africa and the Middle East are on fire, causing bewilderment in Europe, while the massive emigration movement causes cracks upon the cracks the banking crisis left; the Big One or his little brother caused a nuclear disaster in Japan, just in time for Chernobyl's anniversary; and it's okay to shoot bad people if it's in another country than your own; God's own vacuum doing overtime during a super tornado outbreak, and it's not even 2012!
- I quit the job, because that certainly was not working for me
- fencing-wise, I've been engaging my medial shin muscle in excessive amounts of eccentric muscle activity, and now I've got periostitic shin splints, yay!
- I got tired of getting lost with the car when I don't have my flesh-and-bones tomtom along and bought a GPS. I changed the voice settings (the default chic and smart Flemish or Dutch "named" voices are annoying, sounding too much like *I* am the idiot). Now it talks like a robot woman with half a brain, and who can't decide whether she's from Holland or France. Which is just poifect to my Belgian senses!

Oh, and while I haven't been talking much to the Cow Watcher, I've got this funny feeling he's decided the solution to the Barynn (monster) trilogy is actually simple: make it FOUR books *headdesk*
*mumbles* and I wasn't even working on B *headdesk*

nothing says spring like

toad porn on the kitchen floor

Spring means the return of the fleas, and other things

Did some rewriting of DoCS this week, mostly adding/tweaking scenes I'd made notes about since last summer. Needed to really break in the netbook I bought a while back. About thirty percent of what was in the notebook (the pen and ink scribble scribble kind of notebook) was actually already in DoCS, which goes to show that I least remember some of the things I write*, and also that you do not actually need your notebook (the metal & plastic electrodigital kind) to revise a novel. Ha.

The reason I bought the netbook (ASUS eeepc) had more to do with the incompatibility of WinXP with Win7** networks*** than me needing a replacement. My trusted MSI Notebook might look like it's all duct tape and loose screws, but it still performs admirably for a well-traveled, all-banged-up "old" (about 6 years I think) notebook, but the batteries were simpering out again and those don't come cheap.
So: [ new batteries]+[win XP > 7 update]≈ [ASUS eeepc], et voilà.

So far it's turning out an okay thingie, though I still have some peeves I need to either overcome, kill, or learn to steer around.
It really freezes up Word a long time while saving, which isn't so bad when I decide when it saves. But 5 seconds is long when you're in the middle of an amazing sentence and the things starts autosaving. On the other hand, disabling the autosave is not an option for someone who writes.
I really miss the Numpad and dedicated keys like Home and End and Page Up. The limited space on the keyboard means they have been demoted to "function" keys (which makes me wonder whether it are only indjut writers like me who use them). Half the time I'm ending up at the start of the novel (ctrl+fn+home) when what I meant to do was select everything from cursor to beginning of the line (shift+fn+home), and I was drawing looks on the train yesterday while trying to select everything above the cursor right up to the start (a cat-spastic: shift+ctrl+fn+home) for deletion.
Something else I obviously did not give enough thought during the buying: arrows. On normal keyboards arrows reside in an upside-down T constellation (seriously, that was already the case in C64 days). On the eeepc they are reduced to the space of 3 keys in a row, with Up and Down being half-keys, conveniently placed underneath Shift. Imagine: you intend to go up a few lines, find yourself going down (not really a case of sausage fingers, but half of a tiny key is even tinier, okay?) and try to restore the error by tapping the correct key (obviously above the one you were), you end up tapping shift 3 times and wake up some annoying "helpful" key-shit proggie (Dorothy boobytraps I call those because they do sort of work like "click your heels three times" and before you know it you're standing in some field in Kansas and you did not want to go to Kansas at all, okay?). It means serious retraining of fingerspitzengefühl. Changing keys around like that, tch.

Nevertheless, today I did some more work on the second UTA novel, mostly plotting and choreographing, since it is going to be a complicated dance: I've got background stories about Conway's past, then 3 consecutive story arcs, and they all need to get mixed up and taken out of their chronological order and put into some phantaspasmodyllic roller coaster of a storyline. It's starting to look like doable, instead of "what the hell did you think when you thought up this mad scheme?"

Also bought some more books today, mostly because last week I was hit by a spell of friendly idiocy and allowing The Heroes to go with a friend since I was still finishing reading Loups-Garous which, of course, I finished within two days and since I'm not sure The Heroes will be back tomorrow... Mainly bought sequels: Jemisin's Broken Kingdoms (because I'm just so much in love with the woman's voice), Asher's Brass Man (because Line of Polity was not of the same level as Gridlinked, though the writing is good enough to give his agent Cormac another chance), Tchaikovsky's Dragonfly Falling (because even if Empire in Black and Gold didn't get me in an obsessive reading trance I could do with knowing how things evolve), and Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, mainly because it got onto the to-buy list, and it still looked good, or even more so, in the flesh. Erm, paper. And in sticking links to titles I notice that I paid too much in Waterstones, and could  even have had them delivered to my door for even less. The things you do to support your local bookstore...

*seriously, sometimes when I'm reacquainting myself with one of the books I wonder who has added a scene here and there. The wonders of writing in bits and pieces and hopping between stories I guess. That and writing on the train after work like a zombified meatpuppet.

** I'm not a total dweeb with computers, yet it has cost me some study to figure out how to KILL homegroups, but even then no talk between the dysfunctional family members. Besides, with MS every step forward is two steps back. Our USB printserver is also not compatible with Win7, and I refuse working with wireless [don't ask me why, perhaps part of Laumer's Long Twilight (yes, the one that ultimately led to a movie called Highlander) planted a seed in my brain about stuff being beamed through the air, and Walter Jon Williams' Metropolitan probably didn't help either] so currently I email my hubby the shit that needs printing, but hubby don't print because he is a lousy secretary. Good thing I'm not his employer because he would be so fired.

*** the mobile writing desk gets to link and update often to the immobile one, as back up as well as making sure all versions are the same. NB: I bought a GoodSync licence for that and it's still one of my most beloved programs ever.°

° talking about helpful proggies: about two months ago I managed to get confused about whether I had updated the shit, and had 2 different versions of a document. Not something you want to happen when you're talking about 100K+ text, and not quite knowing *what* had been changed between the two. Snagged a program called Diff Doc from the web which was great help, though working through such a shitload of words was still painstaking and long.


Sometimes life is like a bucking bull. And no amount of clinging on is going to make him change his mind about throwing you.

So, today I figured out that trying to deal with old men, as they play at immovable object in a board, is pretty much like dealing with prissy bitches back in my catholic high-school days: what's important is not the work that needs doing and whether it gets done, but the holy sanctity of the pecking order. Everything is a popularity contest, and I never won those way back when, and I don't see why that would change now.

I really can't summon the energy to deal with grown people on that level anymore. So I'm getting off this crazy bull's back and look at things of neglect that are staring sadly at me with lopsided grins from the corner of the arena. Spring's in the air, after all, and I've got plenty of trees in my garden that need killing...

21 days

21 days later
I've got this ear infection bug pretty much conquered, no matter the allies it brought along (renewed sinusitis, flu and the common cold as finalizer).
In between the reading and sleeping and dragging myself through the days, I've managed to renew my efforts on the Barynn Companion. Some while ago I had decided on the form (geographical data, with history, biology and whatnot attached), and now I'm about half-way with gathering all the bits of data from my notes, digital or ink&paper, and integrating and checking all that into a single document. What makes this job huge is not the amount of data but the alertness I must display for typos (since part of the job consists of rebuilding the dictionaries for the spellchecker) and misidentifications (which was one of the main reasons to have a Companion). While I'm happy of the progress, I must admit that the pure administrative side of the job is terrible boring. Poke-yourself-in-the-eye boring.

Meanwhile ideas flit in and out the dark recesses where the Cow Watcher watches the Dungeon-Crawlers, throwing helpful hints in my face that will help delete over 20 pages from Barynn 1 while I'm dead-set on not working any further on any Barynn until the Companion is finished. Scritchyscratch with the pen in the little notebook and hope I remember to check my new set of notes before I start editing.

Belgium, the inventors of redundancy in politics.
And while all this happens, Belgium is still the political faerieland it was, with nothing moving, nothing changing, politicians trying to put the holy fear of bankruptcy in our hearts (to gloss over the fact they stockpiled debts to bail out banks that are now back to their regular business of golden handshakes instead of helping the small and medium business survive), and the people being mostly to busy calling each other rotten fish on facebook and other online media instead of thinking before they speak, and picking up the good ol' pitchfork and show them idjuts what democracy means.


some of the bugs that were playing hide and seek between larynx and sinus decided to make a last stand in my ear. as a kid, ear infections weren't my thing, I did tonsillitis and larnygitis in all forms and colors.
how better to start the year than with a brand new experience!