We were both heading out yesterday, Jackie to downtown Champaign for lunch and then a meeting with her fellow spinners, I to the south end of the research park where the Fitness Center was letting local Yahoo employees (and friends like me) renew our discount memberships.
Jackie’s bus left three minutes before mine, so I had a chance to take this photo. I did some pretty heavy processing in iPhoto, mostly adjusting the levels so as to emphasize Jackie’s face at the cost of washing out things like the brick wall behind the bus. I’m rather pleased with the way it came out.
I do fine at getting outdoors enough in the summer. In the winter, though, I’m prone to spend far too much time indoors.
There’s a sidewalk around the interior of our apartment complex that makes for a fine short walk. (It takes about seven minutes, so I think it’s probably close to a third of a mile.) In the summer, I might do that walk at any time. In particular, I do it while I’m writing, when I find that the prose isn’t flowing. That’s usually a sign that I’ve taken a misstep in the story, and a seven-minute walk is often just what I need to figure out where I’ve gone astray.
In the winter, though, I don’t do that, because the cold and the snow turn the little walk into a big production. Changing into outdoor clothes (and then out of them again) can easily double the time for taking a quick walk, so instead of being seven minutes it’s a quarter of an hour. Plus, I figure if I’m making that kind of investment of time, I ought to do more than just walk around the block–I should get a real walk in, or run an errand.
That kind of thinking leads to trying to optimize my time–scheduling my walk not when I need a short break from writing to get back on track, but when I need to go to the bank or pick up something at the grocery store. And if I don’t have any such chore to justify the outing, I tend to just stay indoors all day. (One of the few upsides of having a regular job was that it did get me out every day.)
Since I know I’ll feel better if I do get out everyday, even if just for a few minutes, I’m thinking of creating an artificial errand: taking a picture. I figure it’s something that can be added onto any actual errands I have–I can just bring the camera along. If it seems like a day for a longer walk, I can take the camera along for that, too. And if it’s not a day for a long walk–if I’m busy, or the weather’s bad–I can just as easily take a picture on a short walk.
When I get a picture that I’m pleased with, I’ll post it here. This one’s from a day or two ago. When I was a boy, one had to be careful walking across a field of clover because there’d always be bees around. This summer, finding a bee on a clover was a rare treat.
My dad got a copy of The Ninth Letter, the University of Illinois literary magazine, and after looking at it sent it along to me.
The goal of this issue seemed to be to produce a physical object was as important as the content, and what they’ve produced is full of stuff–posters, cards, etc.
One thing in it was set of pieces of cardboard to be folded and then assembled (with the addition of a penny as a weight) into a little cardboard toy called the Angel of Memory. Jackie put it together. I grabbed this video with my camera. I forgot that there’s no easy way to rotate video, so you’ll have to turn your head 90 degrees to the right to see it properly.
Just heard from Karawynn Long, a fellow sf writer who’s also keeping a personal finance blog: Pocketmint. (With Catherine Shaffer, this makes three of us sf/pf writers–I wonder if there are any more?)
Pocketmint is full of personal stories turned into larger lessons. I rather liked Downsizing appliances to save money, which tells the tale of finding perfectly good freezer in the garage of a new house. Because it was so handy–already there and running–they started using it, rather than going to the work to reorganize the garage to use their own smaller freezer. The core of the article is a link to the US government’s EnergyStar calculator, which she used to figure out how much money they’d save using their own newer, smaller freezer. Then there’s the story where she caught a mistake the bank made that could have cost them $6100. Lots of good stuff.
I’d actually read her sf work back in the day. She had a story in Enchanted Forests, where she shared the table of contents with Bruce Holland Rogers, and she had a story in Century, a market that I submitted to but never sold to.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for her new work, both pf and sf.
This is by no means a comprehensive list; I’m just trying to capture stuff that was previously in various places on this site and put it in one place. If you’re an Esperanto speaker, there’s more stuff (in Esperanto) on my Esperanto site.
She had emailed, asking for my thoughts. I responded and also pointed her to a little essay I’d written about How I Learned at Clarion. Looking at that piece again prompted me to revise my page about Clarion to include a link to it and to the various other things I’d written about my Clarion experience and what it had taught me about writing.