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I have an occasional private post for the less interesting/more disgusting aspects of chemotherapy that I want to keep track of, and that takes up time I'd otherwise spend posting public posts. Believe me, you're better off.

On the other hand, we did go for a nice walk in the Pogonip yesterday evening, and Zluta was very happy about it, especially since both Andrea and Zack took her for brief sprints. That dog could run for hours if she had someone to run with her.

Also, the library bought The Global Pigeon on my request so I have some research to do for the next not-Poland book.
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You go to page 7 of your current work, skip 7 lines, and copy 7 sentences.

These are kind of long sentences because thius is a kind of 19th-century novel.

  Palachek had many stories in which he confronted immense dangers and always prevailed, saying "I am a man of earth and salt and the Wheel and I will do what I must."

Just now Yanek also felt that he was a man of earth and salt and the Wheel and he could do anything he had to.


Before anybody could eat or drink, Bulo's grandfather Ivek stood up on a bench and addressed the little crowd. Yanek couldn't understand much of what he said, but he got the important part. Ivek held up a pinch of earth and a pinch of salt and kissed the small bone Wheel he wore on a rawhide cord around his ancient neck. Then he said thanks to the Old Girls and especially the Sow of the Luh, and he poured out some of his drink on the ground and gave some food to Bulo to set at the edge of the village. Then be said, "You may pray to God and the gods of the hub, but the Old Girls have been here longer and they don't ask for your prayers, just your remembrance." He waved his hand and the women banged spoons together and the last-sheaf supper started.

This is from the first time Yanek gets to play his drum with the grownups in the villages. "Palachek" is introduced earlier: it's the name of a fairytale hero born as big as his father's thumb, and it also is Yanek's nickname because he is very small (not miraculously small though).

Notice I am using a simplified (and anglified) orthography, because these people are not actually Slavonic and I thought I might simplify the philological notes this way...turns out that, nope, it takes just as long to explain as it would if I spelled the names Janek and
Palaček. But it does allow me not to have to make certain decisions.

On another note, I got a bill in the mail for $202 dollars and some cents for my monthly fee for medical insurance. Since last year's was $22 a month, and since I cannot pay that much, I called to find out what was going on. The Blue Shield person was flummoxed,and came up with error messages, so she kicked me over to Covered California, where the connection was so bad that we had to try three times before giving up on that call, but the Blue Shield person said that the Covered California person had found a different name with my social security number. I called Covered California on my own a bit later and found out, as I suspected, that last was just a plain error. But other error messages persisted, and we decided it would be much faster just to run my application as a new customer (like, weeks faster, because the error message process takes up to six weeks). Upon doing this he discovered I don't make enough for Covered California, and I have to go to Medi-Cal. I now have my number for that, and my primary doctor takes Medi-Cal, but I have no idea about any of the other things that are in process.

So, uncertainty.

One thing that I notice and despise about capitalists is that they want to be liberated from any scrap of uncertainty by having everything guaranteed for them by the government, but they also want to get special privileges based on the idea that they take risks in order to advance the economy. On the other hand, workers are expected to live with the uncertainty of what their bosses will deign to pay and whether their bosses will even keep them working. And in their civic life they are expected to live with uncertainty about whether there will even be water to drink, because the capitalists don't want to pay into the the costs of the infrastructure.

On the
Žluta front, she has not had her morning walk yet because I got my Medi-Cal number.
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The rain woke me last night. I sleep right under the roof in a the low end of the eaves of a converted attic, so the water was drumming less than a yard above my head. I went downstairs to pee, and the little dog woke, heard a noise she had never heard in her life before, and barked and barked to warn me.

At six in the morning the rain was very light and the wind was gentle and gusty. I couldn't find my raincoat so I just threw on another layer of hoody and we went for our walk as usual. The drops were fat and slow and Zluta liked it at first. Dogs are often delighted with a bit of wind, and she was, happy to be out before dawn. I was composing poetry in my head about the familiarity of rain after a long absence, the way the streetlamps halo in it, the bright crosshatches of ripples in the swift-running gutters, the leaves sticking to the sidewalk. When we were just turning back towards home--not quite a mile away--the rain started coming down hard again and we both got soaked through.

For Zluta the heavy-rain experience--unlike the light-rain experience--was unpleasant, even frightening, even though she loves cavorting in the water from the garden hose, which often comes out stronger than this rain. But the difference: she can run into the water and out again, it's not relentless like the rain this morning. She tried cowering from it, dodging it, shaking it off, seeking shelter. I just urged her on, reminding her we were not far from home and we'd get dry as soon as we got there. When we were a couple of blocks away she cheered up and began hurrying straight forward, going as fast as I would let her (I am not running on wet streets with even with my brand new deep-tread waterproof hiking boots. I am taking no risks of ruining my perfect new titanium knees by falling at some stupid angle). When we got home I raced us into the bathroom where I rubbed her down wiuth a towel while she flailed around. She liked that part but it was a bit overstimulating for her, so that she ended up racing around looking for things to shred. Then I stripped out of my wet clothes (wet down to the skin, except my feet were dry) and rolled myself into some dry clothes. And I thought I didn't want to write a poem about it after all. I hardly ever want to write poems: it's not a medium that often fits my way of thinking and feeling. I'm a bit embarrassed about yesterday's poem: it's not very good, but I think it has a good one buried in it if I took the time to dig it out of the muck. Also, I'd want to give it a subtitle.

The rain starts and stops. The wind blows up and wuthers around the house. The trees outside my window go into panicked placating ritual dances until the wind dies down again. Zluta is ill at ease, wants even more attention than usual.

I spent too much time yesterday trying to refresh my memory about military ranks and found out some things I didn't need to learn at this stage because I don't need more details about army life in the previous fin de siecle. Also I had underestimated the recovery needs from the carpal tunnel release I had Monday. I am really, really, really tired. But compared to the "real" surgeries I just had, it's just a wee snip and hardly any re-arranging of my body parts. Still. That's how it is. Even so, I am now taking the steepest hill in my neighborhood like a normal person, no mincing steps at all. My friend Glen's driveway, now, that's another thing. It's much steeper and caltropped with eucalyptus pods, so when I took Zluta there to play with Glen's dog Abby, it was toothgrit all the way down. Up is not a thing, though.
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The chapter I am working on is maybe the penultimate chapter of the book, depending on how many words it takes to write the things that are happening now, but it is more likely the chapter before the penultimate one. Oh, I'm sure it is, no matter how long this stuff goes, because certain things need to be in their own chapters.

oh how I do go on about writing insecurities )

I kind of read Octavia Butler's Fledgling this week too. I skipped ahead to the trials because I am a wuss. It made me wonder just how much of her work is about blending. I will have to read more and re-reading more and figure this out. Also I read Emma Bull's Finder, which was fun enough that I inhaled it but I was also annoyed by its callowness.

On another front, I'm cleaning up the yard to make it pleasant for Frank and Hana when they come later in the month and also so I can see just how much progress I've really made back there. Which is a lot. I have planted a line of coreopsis along one side of one section of the brick path from the garage to Zack's, and parsleyalong the rest of it (and it's still not quite enough parsley for all Zack's and my needs). The front yard is almost cleaned up. After my hand heals from the carpal tunnel release surgery I'm having on Monday, I'll plant the two different abutilons and the one salvia I have in the corner by the almond tree. I have a couple of California milkweeds to plant--they have mousy looking litttle white flowers but they haven't, unlike the other milkweeds, been sprayed with BT to fight light brown apple moth. It's the law, but it makes the milkweeds toxic to the Monarch caterpillars too. So if I had bought one of those pretty ones I would have had to put a net over them for some time--a few months? I forget--to keep from poisoning the animal we're planting it for...

and I also go on and on about my new knees )
On the Zluta front, even though I don't know what I'm doing, we're reaching a place with the backyard barking that is bearable, I'm able to let her go out there freely for many hours a day before she decides to try to provoke the killer dog next door. My current method of breaking that up is to almost silently head her off, distract her with thrown apples, and herd her or carry her inside. Less shouting--which ramps her up-- and no hose spray--which excites her and is actually a reward, However, when I water the yard, I let her play in the hose as much as she likes. Yes, it is still warm enough for her to get wet outside. Though I turned the heater on today. It's set in the low sixties: I think 66 for a period in the afternoon.

Speaking of communication, she is using the wiggle method of communicating her needs much more than the open-mouthed, toothy swarm method. I try to respond immediately but sometimes I'm in the middle of a thing and she has no patience. I've had to exile her only once every couple-few days this last two weeks (it was getting to be two and three times a day, which is too much). Of course, part of this is her general greater contentment now that I am driving again and getting her to the dog park five days out of six.

She has an unfortunately tender stomach, apparently, and apparently I guessed wrong about her food, so that's a work in progress.

7-7-7 game

Sep. 17th, 2015 07:27 pm
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So I don't even know where I saw this, but this is the latest version I've seen of "post a bit of your work:" you go to page seven of what you're working on, count down seven lines, and copy the next seven.

This is what I get if I consider the whole novel as one manuscript instead of the various chapters independently:

"I have breeches," Yanek informed his sister, "But Zhenny wouldn't let me wear them because I wore them yesterday when I played the drum."

This led to an enthusiastic telling of the events of the day before. Yanek confided that he had had beer and herb-liqueur the day before, and he relayed some of the more puzzling things he had seen and heard as if he had understood any of it. Ludmilla countered with some of the grander events at the palace, and Sasha announced that he also had breeches and he wore them all the time, and he had a drum, too, which had little rooster soldiers painted on it.

This is the best I can do if I consider the chapter I'm on: it hasn't gotten to 7 pages yet, so these lines are from page 6:

"It's just coincidence. It'll all go away when this is over," Yanek said. "A week or two from now I'll be back at work at the glass factory." If I live, he thought.

"You think you're getting back to Boem in two weeks?" Krenek asked. "Well," he added to Honza, "I can certainly understand why you don't want to come with us. Garlo stayed behind for similar reasons. But we'd better go now, the sun keeps moving even when we don't."

The other workers in the field had already started loading the wheat into the wagon, so after embraces for all the soldiers, Honza turned back to join them. Yulaida lingered a little longer.

The strikeout words are going away because thanks to [livejournal.com profile] heleninwales I now know I did all the harvests in the book wrong and I have to go back and correct them. I didn't realize about stooking: I thought it was just hay that got that treatment. Definitely not "writing what I know" here. Just "learning about what I write." Also, the second passage looks boring to me on its own like this.
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So downstairs I am still plodding through The Island of the Day Before: I have 148 pages left. The experience is mixed but it does reassure me about a couple of things. Like the idea that there is an appropriate time and place for huge great lumps of information. And the idea that a story doesn't have to live right under the skin of the main character, and that the narration and the point of view do not have to be one and the same. Or that there doesn't have to be just the one point of view in the narration.

So there's that.

Upstairs I am zooming through The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. This morning I suddenly realized what's going on. It's like--you're in a Zelazny type of world, but seeing it from the point of view of the populace who have to put up with the grandstanding bastards Zelazny writes about so entertainingly. This is the second book of a trilogy but you know how libraries are.

On another front: Zluta's been sleeping today, which probably bodes ill for later or for tomorrow, but I've been pretty good about getting work done in the meantime. I wrote the bit where Yanek reaps several fields of wheat in literally no time for reasons he doesn't understand, and now I'm about to write the part where he raises the dead. Well, I wrote the bridge to it once, and wiped it, because the first way I wrote it I thought he was going to look at where he's ended up and know why he was there, but once I saw that on the screen I decided it would be more consistent and more enjoyable to write if he is surprised.

Yesterday my writing was a bit interrupted by the sudden need to know at least something more than I do about using a sickle and binding wheat sheafs without a combine. I was unable to find very much but I'm hoping to find at some point a beta reader who does know about pre-in dustrial and early industrial agriculture. I almost had a combine in that field, but after I did some research and laid out the logistics I decided it was better not to. The analogous era in our world had a complete mishmash of automated and non-automated harvest techniques. Even the tools could be bought from modern factories or cobbled together by your uncle.
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Last night and the night before I had almost a normal amount of sleep. I read somewhere that an important part of falling asleep is the body temperature dropping, and I had a moment of clarity. Post-surgical insomnia is quite possibly probably maybe at least partly a bit due to the body's temperature being a bit elevated for healing purposes! So I have added "sleep under only a single sheet" to my insomnia-fighting weapons. I can't swear that it is working, as the difference is really only about an hour more of sleep-- so like 5-6 hours at night instead of 4-5. But it's huge! I've gone from needing to lie down and doze a half hour out of every two hours to maybe sleeping ten to twenty minutes once or twice in a day. Normal range! (My normal normal is like seven hours of sleep)

I've also begun to be somewhat prouctive on the writing font. I forget whether I revealed here that I had recently figured out how to resolve one of the final confrontations in the not-Poland story. It does require a small but pervasive amount of revision in the earlier parts of the book so as to support and kind of foreshadow the events, but I needed to do some revision anyway. To that end I'm taking notes and also advancing the narrative. I need the notes. I have a cast of thousands to not make stupid errors about and I also have decided to change the fates of some soldiers, so that means I have to know where they met their current fates.  I'm also updating the appendices.

Yes, well. Appendices in a work of fiction. Well.

The thing is that the kind of person who likes to read the kind of book that The Drummer Boy is, also like to know how to pronounce the names, and they like to have a handle on the grography--maps and all that. So I thought I'd give them those things in appendices, so they don't have to read that matter unless they want to but they definitely can if they want to. Also, the kind of people who read this kind of book are definitely the kind of person  who will notice that there are a lot of name forms that look inconsistent, and they might be unhappy if I didn't give them a nice context in which to understand what I'm doing with that (the short answer is that Marezhkia is a polyglot country and the people use the forms they like--thus there is a Giurgu and a Yuri and a Yiri, and a Yanek and an Ivek, and so on and so on: and this fact is important to the actual plot, thank you).

I finally found the kind of real-Polish (that is to say, Polish in this world, not not-Polish which isn't Polish at all but I find it a convenient handle) folk music I could not find before. What I had found before was chorales that sounded like Midwestern a capella choirs singing church music, which I am going to just say I respect in the abstract but I would rather not listen to. I was sure that Poles had some music I would like, and given their position on the continent I had an idea what it would sound like.  But then I found a very large corpus of Polish groups who sing English sea shanties, which is charming, and I listened to that with some burbling enthusiasm. Then yesterday--on a whim I threw in Polish folkmusic to the search bar at youtube and found...Lipka Zielona (that's right, it even has a linden tree in it! and birds who are not birds). This is right up my alley-- that's one of the kinds of sounds I like the most, and when I translated the lyrics (using g. translate, my limited Czech vocabulary, and a common-sense feel for how song lyrics go) they were pleasing. Also I like contemplating the resonances the different aspects of the song and performance have with other European folk music. The instrumental elements I tend to call Hungarian though the Hungarians have no monoploy on them, and the vocal style which sounds a little more Russian to me though as soon as I say that I start arguing with myself about it, like that. That's fun.

There's another video of the same song on youtube which has an unbearable costume skit of peasantry whatever nationalist whatwhat, but whatever. If this song has nationalist implications I don't know about, well, I guess if you know it, tell me, and break my heart.

I started this to write about fooooooood. I can't get enough. I thought maybe I was going to get relief from endlessss huger today but it came back. I can't appease it. I thoguht at one point it was because I wasn't eating enough but now I'm eating more: three eggs cooked with potatoies, onion, salami and chard for breakfast, a chicken salad sandwich and a beet and a tomato for lunch, a goddamned bowl of sunflower seeds for a snack, and I'm sure other things, already today. Maybe I'm missing some nutrient and my body's protesting this?
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Wednesday isn't sacred, right?

So I finally got back into the groove of going to the library on a regular basis, which is nice. I can catch up on old books.

I brought home a bunch of Margaret Atwood this time. I remember now why I got out of the habit of reading her, even though I admire her books and enjoy them a lot of the time. There is, however, a ration of grimness that I can't sustain. The one I just finished is Life Before Man, than which I can't recall having read much more glum except perhaps some fin de siecle century Norwegian stuff. The only glimmer of joy is Lesje's preoccupation with dinosaurs, and even that gets ground down to a pathetic misery by the end of the book. It's a feckless fellow and the three women who feel something sort of like love for him, though in none of those cases does it seem very much like affection. It's one of her realist novels. The inner lives of three of these people are on display, and those reach the sensory intensity of fantasy. It's really masterful: unlike many alternating-pov books, each shift solidly contributes to advancing the story, and the separate points of view are distinct and consequential. It's compelling even though I didn't really like anybody very much, and while at no time was I having any fun, I was really involved with the world, the story, the language. I guess I have to say that she made me care about people I kind of wanted to tell off and I am really glad I don't know.

Now I'm reading Cat's Eye and I think I read it before, though I never remember any of it till I come to it, so it's like reading a new book. I like it a lot better, though I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up hating everybody in it too.

I think I have to go read some Joyce Carol Oates now too, even though I decided a long time ago I didn't like her books and wasn't ever going to read one again. The reason I have to is that Atwood's writing in these two books reminds me a bit of Oates, especially in the ways that don't please me, and I have to figure out why I decided I like Atwood and I don't like Oates.

I am also reading a trilogy my brother-in-law leant me, something I'd never pick out for myself. It's the Powder Mage trilogy, a fat gory fantasy epic with everything I don't like to read. The author is Brian McClellan. The first book is Promise of Blood, an unpromising title for me, but I am paying attention. It's well-written enough that I'm not skimming all the incessant fight scenes. I now it's a bad habit, because sometimes information is in those scenes, but I usually find them boring and unproductive in terms of advancing the story. The one author I know that embeds enough information in fight scenes that they are worth reading every word is Jo Walton in the King's Peace books. What won me over to this trilogy besides my brother-in-law's recommendation (which has to be taken judiciously because we have almost opposite tastes in reading) is the cut line:"The age of kings is dead...and I have killed it." I am not sure whether the speaker of that line is going to turn out to be a villainous point of view after all--I would feel betrayed if he did, but there's indications that this story could go either way. It also has the problem of the characters all being kind of assholes, but they're sort of sympathetic assholes for now.

I have also been lent a Kameron Hurley and I have some other stuff in my library bag. Yes, I am reading lots of real books again, not just cookbooks and online fiction.

Also, I started a completely new story, a school story about Yanek's sister, who is a botanist with second sight which works best with respect to trees. Also she is a Zelnik, and I believe this story is how she finds out what that means and also begins to find a way to abandon her position in the aristocracy without losing her ties of affection to her family. I do not believe this story goes as far as her figuring out how to have a family of her own: that is in the future.
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If I approximated this type of house in the Sims, which I could do by deploying all sorts of objects made for other purposes, the observer would be easily forgiven for thinking I was just being silly. I'm going to describe it before linking the pictures, because I want you to take a moment to try to picture it from my description before you look at it. When you first look at it, you won't see what's really there: no, because I have warned you, you'll look very closely and see it.

Right, so picture this: it is a blocky house in outline, with a moderately steep roof. Including the space under te roof, there are three stories. The ground floor, what Americans call the first floor, is lined with arches set with their backs flush to the wall. In the open ings of the arches you can see that the walls are made of squared-off horizontal logs, painted a dark red, brown, cream, or white. Sometimes the arches match the logs, sometimes they are painted to contrast heavily. The next floor (second floor to Americans, first floor to Europeans) is either more horizontal squared-off logs, sometimes with the caulking painted a contrasting color, or else a smooth white plaster, or it can be half-timbered. Sometimes it also has those bas-relief arches. The walls under the peaked roof are usually covered in vertical siding, or they might be half-timbered. The vertical siding might be quite rustic or it might be fine. There might be a decoration on this top section. There may be dormers and there may be a bay window or a balcony.

Now you can look at the page where the pictures come from. Look carefully, before you read the machine-translated text with them. Do you see that the arches are functional? The text explains it, or I might not have gotten it. The arches are to carry the weight of the roof away from the walls. I imagine it is to defend the house from collapsing in heavy snow. I've seem big blocky Central European farmhouses before but not like this, with these details of construction right there to be contemplated.

What I don' know from reading this is whether, a hundred years ago, very poor country people would live in house like that. I guess it doesn't matter much, as the villages around the old castle are not poor at the beginning of the novel.
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I finished Longbourn.I liked it a lot, though I was kind of dissatisfied with the ending. But I often am. I know some of you people care deeply about spoilers, so suffice it to say that the ending felt a wee bit rushed and forced to me. But the main thing is that here is a richly detailed working class romance where the resolution isn't "take the porotagonist out of the working class." Also, it's a great antidote for the whole (in my opinion) corrupt Regency Romance thing. I think I understand why so many people love that genre, but my response is usually "I hate these people and I want someone to expropriate everything they own and distribute it to the workers," Not exactly conducive to enjoying a lighthearted read. Longbourn is not, by the way, lighthearted.

I also read a chapbook of Karen Joy Fowler's (The Science of Herself)and now I want to call her up. She lives in my town! She actually went to school with the nice fellow, and sweetgly contacted me after he died--she didn't know he lived her until she saw his obituary.

Right this minute, I have no reading agenda, I am editing a thing for submission and I want it done byu next week, so I can do the next thing, etc. I want to get these old things cleaned upo and ready to send away, and then clear the decks so I can go back to not-Poland after surgery.

I finally got a cost estimate on the surgery and it's a relief: I do not have to cancel after all. This is of course a terrible crime against men of property and Congress would like to put a stop to it.

The other good medical news is I rode my bike to physical therapy and back: maybe three miles altogether? I'm not sure. And it was fine, though I expect to wake up tonight with the screamies. I did walk my bike up the one substantial hill, but the physicfal therapist says with my knees, I really, really should. She approved of the venture in general, though.

Yesterday I was thinking it looked like I am in a period where I can have more function or less pain, but not both, and that I seem to have chosen more function for now. Today it looks like I can have somewhat less pain if I persist in  going for more function. That's also reassuring. That's how it was until about a year ago. More exercise relieved pain as well as providing more function, bu just not right away.

Oh, and on another front: aside from the rain giving up on us and retreating, we do seem to have entered early spring, by the particular flowers blooming (quince) and the busy behavior of the birds. Also, I can tell there is more light, and both dog and I are more ambitious. She and I went for a long walk at the Yacht Harbor yesterday. She had some trouble coming back up the stairs, barely enough to call trouble.
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I haven't changed my mind about not doing very much promotion here, but every so often I'll link to where I'm doing it. Today I have something a wee bit different. The wonderful Heather at the Rose Garden here at livejournal has graciously included a guest blog from me about why I do real-world research for secondary-world fantasy.

I think most of my friends already know her, but if you don't, you should head on over there and read her journal. Especially of interest is her substantial Lesbian Historical Motif Project, in which she examines the literature to tease out material for the goal of constructing reasonable lives for fictional lesbians. It's fascinating from every angle. Looking at the way the goals, methods and structures of prose (and poetry, sometimes) have changed over the years: teasing out the complicated worlds of women's lives: figuring out what maps to lesbian in different times and places: and even what the word "lesbian" has meant, is all just riveting. I'm in awe of Heather's vast reading and the work she's done in making sense of it.

Also you should read her posts about her series of secondary-world semi-historical lesbian-oriented fantasy novels (I wanted to throw in other categories, like mystery, etc., but decided that was unnecessary).

Back on the subject of promoting my work, I have another post up at the wordpress blog. By the way, I'm aware the banner is ugly. It's supposed to be!
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Some of my friends here were also participants in the science fiction newsgroups in the past, or possibly still are. You might recall some political fights there, some involving the affable David Friedman demanding "free market" approaches to almost everything (he did allow as how some things were "natural monopolies" but he didn't allow that any of these ought to be considered utilities that ought to be provided at cost by governments). So for these friends, as well as for myself, this is interesting. David's son Patri is out there putting the loathesome theories of libertarianism into brutal practice, in Honduras, where judges who cannot be bought can be eliminated.

on another front, I was just trying to translate this Verbunk song, and I bumped into this cute kid performing it! I finally succeeded in translating it when I realized that two of the words were variants that the dictionary and online sources didn't know. One was sheer intuition: at first I thought the solider was proposing marriage to a knife sharpener, but I decided that sharp sword would make more sense, so I looked up the Czech for "saber" and I was right. Here's the words and my translation (which I contributed to google!)

Bude moja žena,

šabla nabrúšná,

/: ona ně vyseká,

dyž ně bude třeba :/

Neumru na zemi,

než umru na koni,

/: ej a dyž z koňa spadnu,

šabla mně zazvóní :/

She will be my wife, sharpened saber, /: she will not cut when it is not necessary :/ I will not die on the earth, nor die on a horse, /: Ej and when I fall from a horse, my saber rings for me :/

dyž = když , when

šabla =šavle, saber

This took some sleuthing and instinct! And it totally counts as research for not-Poland.

and finally, I totally failed to appreciate Meredith Monk this morning, but I did try.

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I got a little work done on the edits that are due next week (I am in good shape with that actually), bujt I spent most of the day outlining a story that has caught my imagination but which I do not have time to write right now.

Hint: a figure inspired by Yane Sandanski, a backdrop inspired by the Miss Stone Affair, and a protagonist/love interest/whatever who is an itinerant photographer with a shady past, drawn into the scene by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Set, of course, in the world of not-Poland, but not in not-Poland proper.

Also, through a convoluted process involving a friend's fourth anniversary, I have discovered hwajeon, Korean flower pancakes, and now I want to make them. But I have to admit that I am astonished that azaleas are considered edible food.
ritaxis: (hat)
I've been using Google Docs for composition lately, because it is so easily shared and it is the most streamlined word processor I have (on different machines I have an old version of word perfect, a new version of open office, and a new version of word, as well as kingsoft which is for the Nexus). No goddamned ribbon! The only thing I miss is reveal codes from word perfect and I don't use it as much as I used to anyway. Another nice thing about Google Docs is the way the word count works, which is both simple and complete.

But Google Docs has a very, very strange spell check. My working theory is that it was developed by a rapidly-changing crew of interns, some of whom were mentally unstable. The words that are not in the dicitonary as it arrives are staggering. I didn't start keeping formal track of it right away so I have forgotten some of the doozies, but once it questioned my use of the word fatherly and offered "motherly" as a substitute I began to suspect it would behoove me to keep a record. So I have been doing that.

I'm getting an average of one ridiculous suggestion every two thousand words. A word that the spell check really hates is any form of the verb "to stare." Once I told it that I did not want to change "staring" to "starring" it waited a few chapters till I wrote "stared" and offered me "started." I'm a little surprised that the word was not in the dictionary to start with.

Some other words that surprised me by not being in the dictionary till I put them there: pet, bonny, lewdly, drunker, foraged, relished, pouting, shouting, tree, palace, yews, rigamaroles, though, wont, meandered, sour, tack, dropped, tinny, curved.

I notice that a lot of these are verbs with inflection, or plural nouns, or modifiers formed by having endings added to them. But others are really basic words: pet, tree, palace, though, sour, tack. Really? The dictionary didn't have tree in it? Or though?

A whole class of suggestions is rooted in the compound word controversy. We have a lot of words in English where there is no special fundamental reason why the word shoulde be compound, or hyphenated, or left as two words. You just have to memorize which ones forms are preferred for each word. It's an area where I personally often prefer the less generally favored term, so when a spell check highlights one of those I am cautious. I can be downright wrong on these -- use a form that nobody else uses -- so I am unlikely to just "add to dictionary" when these come up. But the Google Docs spellcheck almost exclusively seems to favor the formation that comes second in Merriam-Webster. In some cases these are controversial forms, ones that language peevers will whine about for centuries if you don't shut them up, like "awhile." Now, I don't mind tweaking a peever now and then, but I hate the idea of thousands of innocent users who just don't know getting snookered into taking a controversial stand in their writing because of an errant spell check.

My guess is that these, along with the "fatherly" episode, are not accidental. I think that the interns at Google perpetrated a prank, and loaded the dictionary with these in order to create chaos and what they perceived as hilarity. The kindly forum moderators at Google say quiet and placating things when people run in and complain about it.

The only other serious bug I have found in Google Docs is that thing where, if you zoom the text at all, you might find that the cursor has become misaligned with the text. The only solution is to close and open the document again. You don't lose your work, because of the instantaneous save feature, but if you made any typoes because of the glitch, you will have a hard time fixing them until after you have closed and opened again. This bug seems to have been partially fixed over the summer, but it has happened to me once or twice lately, and I notice people are still complaining about it. Since I am no longer using Frank's laptop to write with I have a lot fewer episodes of inadvertent zooming too (something about the layout of his keyboard and touchpad had me frequently hovering over the keypad in a way that convinced it I was trying to zoom and to fly the cursor around the screen also: notice I said "hover," too -- it was way over sensitive).

On the actual writing front, as opposed to mere typing, I feel that the revisions are coming along nicely, which naturally makes me fear that I am missing something in the big picture. Naturally.
ritaxis: (hat)
If anybody is interested in reading the draft of The Drummer Boy -- despite all my agonizing these last weeks -- comment here and I will set you up with links by the weekend.

Thanks to everyone for being patient with me and helping me figure out the structure issues. The fix turns out to be really simple and I feel much better.
ritaxis: (hat)
If I look at the Drummer Boy as a thing in two parts, not only is it more balanced, but it has symmetry.

And I think I also can describe it better if I'm thinking of it as one a nineteenth-century novel "in two books."

Meanwhile I was looking for a picture of a guy playing a tapan, and I found a Polish drummer who looks exactly like Yanek. (It's the first picture, Piotr Bruski) The band, Bubliczki, also just so happens to play the kind of melting-pot wedding-music with many sources and influences that is the 21st century equivalent of the music Yanek plays when he ends up in the city.
ritaxis: (hat)
So The Drummer Boy is reaching draft status. I'm closing in on the last chapters. I took some time off to revise the earlier chapters and I've made notes for some further revisions, but I'm feeling ready to hear what other people have to say about it. It's long enough, and I'm close enough to the end, that I am pretty confident that by the time you're ready for the last chapters, they'll be written.

If you're interested, comment or message me, and I'll send you the link to the folder.

In other news, I've suspended taking simvastatin in a desperate measure to stop my legs hurting and this seems to have worked in a limited fashion, so an important task when I get back is to figure out how to get back on some other kind of statin regime (either reduced dose or a different type), because the statistics in favor of statin use are really quite conclusive. As to the limitation -- the really quite severe and puzzling muscle pains I was having since my arrival in Prague have just about disappeared -- but now I am having actual knee pain, as in obviously the arthritis. I can't catch a break. I have, however, at least according to Hana's bathroom scale, lost almost six kilos, which would please me more if it hadn't been in less than a month. I am not certain of this, naturally, as the scale weighs very heavy compared to the doctor's scale back home, in fact it just now says that I weigh a bit less than when I left. I do know I have lost some weight though as my clothes are hanging off me, which is disconcerting. anyway, the point is, or was back there before I got sidetracked about weight, that my leg pain is clearly multifactorial, and I've been identifying and dealing with one factor at a time. I identified fascitis and muscle spasm, and physical therapy dealt with that (I still do exercises and self-massage for that). I identified arthritis, and put that on hold as the muscle stuff seemed to keep the pain at bay and I lost any method of paying for surgery. Then the pain came back and I seem to have identified this other thing with the statin and also to have crossed some new threshold with the arthritis.

The one thing I know about the pain is that I need exercise and rest, more of one or the other depending on the day.

It is enormously hot here in Prague -- like record breaking some days. Combined with the arthritis acting up I am glad I did a lot of my sightseeing and research already because I can't do so much of it right now.
ritaxis: (hat)
Tablet is cumbersome. The usb adapter for the keyboard broke which makes it worse. I can use Frank's laptop for a while now and then but he does need it so when I have it I am working. I discovered I misunderstood artillery placement and procedure so that's the middle of the book that needs some substantial rewriting (fortunately details and anecdotes, the structure remains the same).And I have discovered linden trees in a big way. Europeans probably already know all this. But when art nouveau drawings have improbable trees with roundish overlapping leaves, oblong bracts, and clusters of delicate flowers or round berries, those are not made up. Those are lindens. And when the beer stein says "auf der Linde ist est schoen" (there may be errors in that childhood recollection) that is an understatement. My goodness, linden smells sweet. It's not cloying but it is penetrating and demanding. And the trees grow quite big too. I feel quite smug for having already chosen it as a significant tree in the not-Prague miscellaneous urban tree people fantasies.
Most days I tourist a bit and fuss with my legs a bit and work a bit and socialize a bit. Yesterday I slept a lot because I seemed to have picked up a bug at the wonderful neighborhood swimming pool where Frank and Hana mostly messed around and I mostly swam and water-walked. There were only three or four lanes cordoned off and the rest was free swim and play, which was much better for me than the businesslike and inflexible way they tend to do it in the states.

So anyway I am taking a lot of pictures and I will share them -- or a few of them anyway -- when I get back.
ritaxis: (hat)
So, I've been pretty busy. I have been to many museums, parks, and shops: I have also been revising The Drummer Boy, and socialising with Frank the son and Hana the daughter-in-law, and also for a week there with my niece and nephew.

That planned-for graduation did not happen. Along with a third of his class Frank has been made to come back in the fall to take another test. I don't think it's politic to go into the details, but I also have reason to think that Frank is not the only one that is experiencing unfairness in this. The delay has lost him a chance at a residency in Malta this year but there will be other chances later.

Every outing is research for the novel. I have learned so much about central european culture, history, landscapes, and ecologies, and some of what I have learned is having small but substantial effects on the content of the book. So while a large part of revision is simple proofreading, and another large part is continuity checking (are all the names the same when they need to be, have I made sure that things happen in the right order and nobody knows things before they should and nobody fails to know what they should know after they should know it, did I clean up all the remnants of changing things when I had a better idea?), another large part is working in new knowledge where it seems appropriate and where it enhances the story. It is also a task for me to avoid working things in just for the sake of working them in. For example, having gone to the Public Transportation Museum, I know exactly what the tram cars are like that Yanek rides to the forest on the edge of the city where his ancestral lands are. But so far there hasn't been a scene that would be improved by any amount of description of that.

Oh well,I used up my time . . .we're getting ready to go for a ramble in the forest. Another time I will write about the huge disappointment that is the state of my legs. I can walk where I want,but I am slow and I suffer.

May 2017

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