log (2002/11/15 to 2002/11/21)

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Thursday, November 21, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Current total: 40,040

It's amazing how easily a thousand words come, now that I know roughly where I'm going. Of course it's easy to say that after having written only one, rather than two, thousand on each of the last two days.

The story is complex enough this year that, unlike last year, I almost wish I had made notecards with relevant facts on them, character outlines, and suchlike tools. Was the town where Torcel Vellome fell into an Innerness in her youth on the Spine or the Shoulder? Has Torcel told Ot yet about that incident, and did she mention the color of the Architor's hood? How many children has Na had?

I keep having to look these things up, and given how loose I've been playing with time and order (lots of contemplative flashbacks), it's not easy to know where in the five thousand or so lines to look.

Today's distraction: The Short Victorious War. Very easy reading, good hard (but upbeat) military setting SF. Another "wouldn't society be great if only a bunch of powerful families ran everything?" story, and again I'm a little too jaded to buy it entirely. I can't decide if the book is bubblegum escapism, or something more than that. It's pretty blindingly obvious who the good guys and the bad guys are (good guys like Honor Harrington and always speak their minds; bad guys dislike her and are stuck-up prigs who put too much weight on protocol and procedure), although there's always the chance that an apparent bad guy will turn out to be good.

But I'm enjoying it, and may get some more of the series sometime. (I may even have some in the To Be Read piles up in the library; I may even have read some in the past and forgotten, for that matter. Hopefully I haven't read this very one and failed to recognize it on re-reading; I don't want to be that forgetful yet!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

"Have either of you had a child?" Ot's voice, coming from the ground where she still lies, looking upward, startles Nartabee and Curatan, and surprises Torcel, who has not felt her stir until she spoke.

Nartabee and Curatan look at each other, uncomfortable. This is not a casual question, even here tailward, perhaps especially here tailward. The Architors do not call for many children, back here. The land, the skin, is already drained by the scattered people that it supports, and there are always granches.

So neither Nartabee nor Curatan bear the mother-scar.

"But we know --"

"We know of those who have," Curatan finishes for Nartabee, who being impetuous and easy might have named one.

"Can we speak to some of those?" Ot asks. Torcel admires her singlemindedness again.

"We will need to ask them," says Curatan. And they speak of other things, the shortage of artisans and the sad state of the local baths. Then Nartabee and Curatan go off, perhaps to speak to someone who has had a child, and Ot and Torcel lie by the lip of the Innerness, half twined together, looking up at the stars.

Current total: 39,001

And that's probably it for tonight, as I stayed up too late last night, and don't really want to do it again for another thousand words. We're still doing nicely, if slightly behind target. We'll make it up on the weekend. (It says here.)

I think I can see more or less to the end of the story now, and the writing is pretty easy. It's just finding the time to get the words down on paper. Which is amusingly similar to what I said at this time last year.

Here are the top phrases searched:

  - 3 for "amnesia"
  - 2 for "fisting"
  - 2 for "gnomes"
  - 2 for "naked helen pictures"
  - 1 for "chess employment"
  - 1 for "clones"
  - 1 for "elsewhere"
  - 1 for "elsewhere org"
  - 1 for "hackers"
  - 1 for "immortality device"

A reader very aptly suggests:

This Friday, go see a movie about the ultimate in procrastination: Die Another Day :-)

That's James Bond, yes? Halle Berry (or perhaps Halle Barry) as sexy Bond Girl, u.s.w.? I probably won't see it on Friday, as I seldom go to movies aimed above the 12-and-under demographic these days, but thanks for the thought. *8)


more people

scantily clad people

Probably in re the Chibis, a reader writes:

Hers is better than yours. Don't hit me.

No sheep, Sherlock! She's a creative young girl with a sharp eye and an adroit hand, and I'm just some geek who's good with bits. She whomps me at SSX Tricky, too, but I don't mind. Half those genes are mine, after all.

Today's marginal pictures are courtesy of the Klez virus, more or less as usual. I hope no one's head exploded upon seeing the one with the scantily-clad humans. I thought it was kind of cute.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

The first time she found this Innerness, this opening to the surface, from the underside, it was only because someone had dangled something on a rope from above. It is too much to hope that that rope or that something will still be here. Torcel stretches out her senses, and finds nothing. She kicks herself up against the inner skin itself (delicious searing pain), and spreads her fingers out across it. She wills the small machines or animals in herself to extend her senses further. And finds nothing.

Then Ot barrels into her and knocks her away from her place pressed against the skin, and Ot is pulling on her arms, pulling her somewhere at a great speed, and then stopping and looking about herself. They are close to the skin, a little way from where Tercel was clinging when Ot began pulling her. It seems no different.

And then at the limit of her vision she sees the frayed end of the rope.

End of day eighteen: 36,006
End of day nineteen: 38,058

I think part of the reason, maybe a big part of the reason, that I never seem to have any time, and that Something always seems to Come Up just when I have the most to do, is this: when I actually have time that I could use to do stuff, I play video games and mindlessly surf the Web instead, and then when something does Come Up (like this burned-out headlight or that broken refrigerator) I say to myself "shucks, and I was just about to start doing productive things, too; why does this always happen?" *8)

From Daze Reader (who now has comments on his blog entries, brave soul), Sex Workers Art Show. (Dot com.)

Monday, November 18, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

End of day sixteen: 31,146
End of day seventeen: 34,001 (back on target)
Today's goal: 36,000

Today's top "Spam in its entirety", number one:


And number two:

Subject: this rocks 5/2/02

  your not going to believe this..
they took the house, who would have thought....


Who would have thought?

Today's top distraction: M's car had a headlight burn out, and when taking the old one out there was a snap, and now the retaining ring is missing all three of the little black plastic flanges that hold the bulb in, and the autoparts store doesn't carry it, and even the dealer doesn't stock it, but I can order it and it'll be in on Wednesday, or Thursday evening for sure.

So now M has to drive around with one of her car's headlight bulbs duct-taped in. Phht.

Today's book: "Futures, Four Novellas". Not bad, not wonderful. I'm gonna write about them all, because I have the vague desire to write about everything that I read, and it's a good way to procrastinate.

The first, Peter F. Hamilton's "Watching Trees Grow", is a sort of wistful utopian alternate history of the "gee, if only the world were ruled by a benevolent aristocracy, everything would be so much better" sort; I think I would have bought into it fine in my youth, but in my cynical dotage here the "yeah, right" factor was pretty high.

The second, Stephen Baxter's "Reality Dust", was kinda cool, but ultimately didn't work due to a deep category mistake, having to do with the ability to picture all the possible states of the universe as individual points in a cloud of dust, as against actually being able to walk through that cloud and cause it to swirl in certain ways.

The phrase "least-energy matching principle" isn't enough to cover over the fact that this doesn't make any sense. In fact the problem is very similar to the problem I had with Greg Egan's "Permutation City" a long time ago; both Baxter and Egan even use the word "dust".

The background world of "Reality Dust" is more interesting than the actual plot; I'd like to see a more interesting story told in that place (maybe he's written some, I dunno; I haven't been Keeping Up).

The third story in the book is Paul J. McAuley's "Making History", and I don't remember much about it. (Rustle rustle.) Oh, yeah; it's another story where the setting and backstory are the best part, and the main plot is mostly an excuse to tell the reader about them, although here the main plot is also not bad on its own (love and pain and betrayal and stuff).

One little tech problem bothered me: it turns out that one character is using pheromone perfume to influence the attitudes of those around her, but although these things are apparently available in the society, people don't seem to routinely defend against them, or realize that they might be in use. If that tech were really available, countermeasures (technological and/or cultural) would also be; things balance themselves.

And last was Ian McDonald's "Tendeléo's Story", a fairly good story about love and incomprehensible alien nanotech. I did find myself reading it from the viewpoint of a NaNoWriMo writer in at least one place, though.

The male and female leads are separated by events, and eight months later he goes in search of her. Why eight months? Well, the mechanics of the plot required it. Within the story, he apparently just sits in a blue funk missing her terribly for eight months. This is not terribly convincing; I can imagine the writer thinking: "Oh, hell, she needs to be in Africa for like a year without him, how do I arrange that? Well, heck, I've got a deadline here, so I guess he just gets like real depressed or something."

I can sympathize.

Today's Threat to Your Freedoms: Total Information Awareness (see two ACLU pieces). Of course this "little known defense department office" isn't little known to us bloggers; they are famous for winning the Oscar for "Most creative use of Bavarian Illuminati symbolism in a government logo" the other month (still prominently displayed on their home page).

From the description, Total Information Awareness sounds like either a massive intrusion of government surveillence into our daily lives, or a way to give a bunch of professors some money that they'll use to pay grad students and write papers citing each other. I'm willing to believe that the politics behind it are sinister enough to warrant the ACLU getting hot about it.

(Dr. John Poindexter?)

Saturday, November 16, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Below the skin of the world, down in the hot roiling red, Torcel Vellome, what was once Torcel Vellome and might as well be called that again, swims through the thickness, engulfed in bliss. She opens her mouth and the redness eddies into her; she flexes her body and it rolls around her, and rolls her around.

In her mind she looks at the image of the lizard floating in blackness. The image is cool and dark, and all around her is hot and bright, and the contrast fills her with awe. She thinks of beauty, of the graceful person by the lip of that other Innerness. She senses where she is in the image of the world, and she wonders where that graceful person is now, where she would be on the image of the lizard.

And suddenly she knows.

End of day fourteen: 24,328 (ick)
End of day fifteen: 27,018 (more like it)
Current count: 31,146 (woo woo!)

Another highly recommended method of procrastination (as if SSX Tricky weren't enough) is to make various spreadsheets and charts showing your writing progress. For instance:

Lovely, eh? So we had a very rough patch there, but we're charging madly back now. I hope to get in at least a solid three thousand words tomorrow, and then I can shoot for two thousand a day again. This is definitely much harder than last year!

Speaking of SSX Tricky, a witty and clued reader writes:

marisol naked pictures

Which is both a reference to the well-known helen naked pictures (or "pitures), and to Marisol, one of the two watermelon-breasted female characters in SSX Tricky. (To the game's partial credit there are also two, and perhaps three, female characters with more plausible bodies.)

Today's web puzzle: in the above context, figure out why "zoe naked pictures" would also be clever and appropriate (beyond just "there's an SSX character named Zoe"). Readers who find the answer may submit a corresponding URL if they so choose. Void where prohibited.


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