Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 13-19, 2019

Three articles. Three videos. I hope something here gets your mental corn popping!

Ali May: you can hike to the end of the world—in a wheelchair. Ozy

Peter Kotecki and Frank Olito look at nine body parts humans no longer need (and some of us don’t even have anymore!). Business Insider

SciShow Psych looks at why music gives us the feels.

 

Shannon Odell: your brain on conspiracy theories. Inverse

 

Maggie Koerth-Baker thinks that the era of easy recycling may be coming to an end. FiveThirtyEight

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony on One Guitar – Marcin Patrzalek (this is freakin’ awesome)

 

And that was thoughty Thursday.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

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Muse-inks: Sick away and figuring out where the stirrup is

This past week, I spent most of it out of town at a learning event for work. I carpooled with three of my colleagues, none of whom drive. The rental agency gave me a Ford Expedition, which I appreciated on the winter highways, but not so much in the parking garages of North York and Richmond Hill.

The hotel we stayed at was driving distance and we had to find parking at the office every morning. The mornings weren’t so bad. It was travelling down Tuesday and trying to find parking around noon that was the challenge. I levelled up my large vehicle driving skills, though.

And, as I mentioned last week, I had a cold the whole time. Being sick away is exhausting. I still have the dregs, but I’m in recovery.

Phil was not so lucky. I shared my illen with him prior to my departure and, as he texted me on Tuesday, “the man cold dialled up to eleven.” He’s still quite sick, but he’s determined to go back to work tomorrow because of the difficulties I’ve mentioned in past posts.

Torvi was quite good for him through the week but, because he was sick, Phil shipped her over to my mom’s most days, so he could stay in bed. Torvi destroyed Mom’s welcome mat, two hats, and she’s had to move the hall tree (an antique) into the basement and close the door. Torvi was jumping on it and threatened to tip it over.

Once Torvi is spayed and has her final vaccines, I’m definitely investing in obedience training.

While I was down south, because I was sick and on call for driving duties, I didn’t really have a lot of time to devote to creativity. I generally tackled essential duties, like curation, and went to bed early.

I let things slide Friday night after my return and caught up yesterday, though I was obliged to have not one, but two, naps yesterday. I should be fit to return to work tomorrow as well, though.

I did write a little bit in the last week, however. Sunday and Monday nights, I was able to commit a few words to Playing with Fire, and on Thursday night, I wrote a few more. Yay me 🙂

This is where “figuring out where the stirrup is” comes in. I’m ready to get back on the writing horse again, but the first step is to figure out where the stirrup is. One can’t get back in the saddle until one finds the stirrup. Not everyone has the ability to vault onto the horse and ride bareback 😉

I suppose I could have extended the metaphor to saddling the horse and tightening the girth, but the horse has been saddled and waiting for me since I started to think about PwF again. I think I’ll leave the equine metaphor there for now.

This morning we lost an hour. Daylight savings time is another challenging time of year for me. It usually takes me a week to properly adjust my sleeping and waking habits. I’m hoping my naps yesterday helped. We are creeping closer to the vernal equinox, though, and spring. It’s lighter in the mornings and the quality of the light is changing as the earth shifts on its seasonal axis. My mood is improving.

I also have my follow up appointment with my gynecologist for the ablation this week. So far, I have experienced two very light periods and I have stopped discharging in between. I’m seeing it as a good sign and have stopped taking my iron supplements. I’m going to let my body adjust to its new normal and hope that I don’t get anemic again. The blood tests will tell the tale, though.

I’ve also lost about twenty pounds since last fall. It’s mostly been due to Torvi and my increased level of activity from walking, caring, and playing with her. I weighed the Torvi-beast this morning, BTW … She’s 48 pounds (!)

I have hope that this cold was just a stress thing and that my recovery heralds an overall improvement in my health. There’s still Phil’s uncertain work situation and my ongoing pay difficulties that have to be overcome. Those were the stressors that helped to make both of us vulnerable and until we both have solutions in place, I anticipate that we will continue to face a few challenges.

My critique group has, after a delay due to various members moving and adjusting to life in new time zones, started up. This is another good thing.

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And … my orchids are in flowering mode again!

I’m going to be taking some time in the next week to try to refocus and organize my life again. I have been in denial that I could take on pup parenthood and that I could still devote the same kind of time to everything else in my life.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, something’s gotta give. I don’t want that something to be my writing anymore and it can’t be Phil, Torvi, or the rest of my family. Fiscal necessity means it can’t be the day job, at least not in the short term.

What does that leave? That’s where things get interesting and that’s where my efforts will focus for the foreseeable.

All these things are first world problems, though. That is to say, they’re not really weighty problems in the bigger scheme of things. I have to keep things in perspective and hope I’m not whinging too much.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Lessons learned and takeaways from my European adventure

Over the weeks since my return and interspersed with monthly updates, I’ve been recounting my European adventure. Now, I’m finally ready to talk about the benefits I’ve gained and the things I’ve learned from the experience.

Muse-inks

Planning and preparation are important

I committed to the Writing Excuses Retreat and WorldCon in early February. It could have been January, but I was hesitant because of the expense. Ultimately, it was a confluence of events: WXR doing a Baltic cruise—they usually cruise the Caribbean, WorldCon being in Helsinki, my desire to visit the country of my ancestry, and the fact that I could do all that AND get in some quality first time tourism at the same time as I continued my professional development as a writer.

Once I committed, I was hip-deep in making the travel arrangements. WXR had their own travel agents and I was able to get a great price on a return European flight through them. All of the cruise arrangements were made through the travel agency.

They facilitated the registration for the cruise, the booking of all the tours at each of the stops, and the issuing of all electronic travel documents.

I made my own hotel booking and, with very little back and forth, I was able to secure the convention rate for my extended stay.

While I attempted to make my additional travel arrangements through the travel agents associated with the cruise, they were busy enough handling the details for the cruise. I’d noticed that the Canadian Auto Association, of which I am a member, was promoting their European travel services. I decided to make the remaining arrangements through them.

There was much more back and forth, but by staying on top of the email thread, I had my flight from Hamburg to Helsinki booked, my rental car, and my bus tour to cover the days in between the cruise and WorldCon.

I went to the airline sites and to CATSA to help me with my packing. My thought was to travel light and only have my carryon luggage and my (fairly large) purse. I reviewed my itineraries for the flights, cruise, and the schedule for the convention to plan out, in rough strokes, where I’d have to be, when.

I was as prepared as I could be by the time I left, but while planning and preparation are important, they aren’t everything.

I still suffered panic attacks in the week leading up to my trip. I still had to deal with ongoing anxiety during the flights—not because I’m afraid of flying, but because I was afraid that despite all my planning, that something catastrophic in terms of making my connections, delays, or other uncontrollable elements (weather) that attend travel would render my planning useless.

Fortunately, none of that happened.

Travelling alone is empowering

Because so much is out of your control when you travel alone, you quickly realize you just have to put on your big girl (or big boy) pant(ie)s and git ‘er done.

Anxiety serves no purpose in these situations and, frankly, can’t be indulged. Yes. I wrote that. Anxiety, in some situations, is an indulgence. It’s an indulgence of imbalanced or malfunctioning neurotransmitters, and not easily managed, but it’s still an indulgence.

I have a friend who lives with obsessive compulsive disorder and its attendant anxiety. I invited her up for a short visit that, because of its brevity, was highly structured (I guess planning’s a thing with me). In the ensuing whirlwind, she didn’t have the time to perform her particular rituals.

Months (it might have been years) later, she told me how that visit had changed her. It was concrete evidence that even if she couldn’t indulge her OCD, that the things she feared would happen, didn’t. It was a breakthrough for her.

I travel alone all the time. I drive down to Ottawa, to Toronto, or to other cities in southern Ontario to train for my day job. I attend writing conferences, conventions, and workshops alone. Some of these have been across the country, or in the States. But I’d never been outside of continental North America before. In a very real way, I had never been more alone.

After the pre-departure panic attacks, though, I progressed straight to a semi-fugue state during travel. I was completely in the moment. I had to continually check my itinerary to make sure I was making progress to the next queue, or boarding, or whatever, because it was too tempting to slip into a place in which I wouldn’t care if I got anywhere at all.

Though I spent my waiting and flight time reading or watching movies to keep myself distracted, I wasn’t really forming solid memories of these things. I felt like a deer in the headlights most of the time. It was a test of endurance more than anything else, but I didn’t have a panic attack for the duration of my trip.

A little bit of that disconnect from reality followed me throughout my journey and reasserted itself for my days of solo travel. I was more in control once most of the uncertainty was behind me, once I’d reached the Atlantic Hotel in Kiel, for instance, or embarked on the cruise ship, or checked into the Sokkos Presidentti.

During the retreat itself, I had to be intentionally vulnerable, painfully honest, and resist attempts to make my work, accomplishments, or failures—essentially me—sound better, less devastating, or more professional than they were. It takes effort to do this when your body and brain is used to preventing you from doing these very things. It’s very liberating.

And, as my friend Kim told me, it’s also empowering. I can be authentic and the world doesn’t end. People still like me. I can be honest, and my tribe (writers) will support me.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts about this trip, the experience is still changing me. I’m a creature of habit and change is slow to come.

It was bucket-listy

When I started to attend conferences, conventions, and workshops, I started to set goals. Attend  Ad Astra. Check. I’ve now attended three. Attend the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Check. Attend When Words Collide. Check. Attend Can-Con. Check. Attend WorldCon. Check.

When I started to listen to the Writing Excuses podcast, I became aware of their writing retreats. Initially, they were held at Mary’s parent’s house. Eventually, though, they became more ambitious and the retreat took place on a cruise ship.

So I put that on my list of writerly goals. The Baltic cruise was special, though. The Writing Excuses cast will likely not be doing something similar in the near future. I could have made it even more bucket-listy by attending the German castle tour that followed the cruise, but I had to draw my financial line somewhere.

Still, to attend a writing retreat on a cruise ship, in Europe, and to be able to see some of the world in addition to developing my skill as a writer? As they say on the credit card commercial, that was priceless. It was the perfect storm of opportunity.

Travel and experience are critical parts of becoming a better writer. You have to push your limits, get out of your comfort zone, to make a breakthrough.

Ask and you shall receive

I left on my trip with a couple of personal goals in mind aside from travelling Europe and participating in the cruise.

Again, as I’ve mentioned previously, I have been having increasing difficulty with creative burnout. I wanted to see if I could get some practical advice and solid strategies for identifying and addressing the underlying reasons for this.

K. Tempest Bradford and Emma Newman were particularly helpful in this respect. The path they’ve lit the way to is one I’m still walking. I’ll have to devote another blog to this in the future, once I’ve sorted more of it out.

For now, I’m easing up on the writerly goal setting. I’m making room for other entertainment, down time, and self-care. I’m not so obsessed with heeding the siren song of production (moar!). I’m working on understanding that what I can get done is enough, that I am enough, and that reminding myself of the reasons I chose to write in the first place (love!) take precedence over external validation.

The other thing I was looking for was something that I’ve been trying for a couple of years to get in place, a mentor, editor, or some other form of support to help me get to the next level, so to speak, in my writing. I’ve tried to get a situation in place, but often personalities, interests, or skill sets have not meshed.

I’ve also been a part of many informal writing groups in real life as well as on line over the years. Again, personal goals, interests, and skill sets have not meshed. Or the methodology has been, in my opinion, flawed. Focusing on the first X pages or chapters doesn’t result in appropriate feedback, and feeding chapters, or sections, to readers over months or years isn’t necessarily productive either. Neither approach allows the reader or critique partner to get a feeling for the whole story, which I think is critical to feedback that results in improvement.

By the end of the cruise, I’d expressed interest in a full-novel critique group. Over the course of WorldCon, connections were made and things were firmed up. Starting in January of 2018, there’s a group of us that are going to give it a shot. I have hope and expectations, but not so many, nor so high, that they will be easily disappointed 🙂

One thing that I wasn’t expecting to receive was the excellent advice of Thomas Olde Heuvelt on how to develop and maintain a creative life plan. I’ve been setting writerly goals for years, but they’ve been primarily one-dimensional and focused on production.

Thomas’s advice to let the over-the-top, blue-sky, dreamy goals inform your overall writing goals and to include holistic life goals, like health—physical and mental—and financial, in the plan helped me to realize how much wellbeing I’ve been leaving out of my goals in recent years. He also recommended having a five year plan in place, subject to change (life does have a habit of intervening).

My European adventure was truly a life-changing experience, in many ways.

I’ll have to let you know how everything works out, but as many of my takeaways were things I’m going to be implementing over time, the results may be a while in coming.

Next week, I’ll be devoting some time to Kim’s launch of Some Other Sky and my presentation for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild on Fantasy (yes, the topic is wide open—it’s going to be fun). After that, I’m going to be participating in NaNoWriMo and taking a month-long blogging break, except for the Thoughty Thursday coming out on November 2nd.

I’ll catch everyone up in December with another bonanza October/November next chapter update. There are also going to be some writerly events coming up in November, including WordStock Sudbury and a possible Gail Anderson-Dargatz workshop with the Sudbury Writers’ Guild.

There will be more writerly goodness coming up.

Until next I blog, be kind, be well, and stay strong, my friends. The world needs your stories.

The Writing Excuses Baltic Cruise, part 1

I’m baaa-aaack!

Did you miss me?

As you might be able to tell from the title of this post, I’ve decided to break up my Writing Excuses Retreat (WXR) experience into parts. There was just too much writerly (and other) goodness going on for me to pack into one post, even in summary.

And that is what I intend to provide for you here: a summary. An event like this really has to be experienced to appreciate the impact it can have on a life. Not just a writer’s life, either. Any life.

I’ve never been outside continental North America before. Simply going to Europe and getting a taste of seven different countries changed me as a person. If you haven’t travelled, I highly recommend it. Even if you think you can’t afford it, save up (preferable), ask for financial assistance, or, if you have the means (i.e. stable employment) and aren’t too far into debt already, commit to some medium term debt and a reasonable strategy for getting out of it. Planning is everything in this last instance.

It was so worth it for me.

As you may remember from my last post, pre-departure, anxiety was having its way with me. I knew once I got in the air, I’d be fine. Once the first plane is boarded, there’s really no turning back. Even my anxiety can’t argue that point.

The journey was nonetheless fraught.

I got up at 5 am, so I could get to the airport by 6:30 and check in to board my flight at 7:30. The usual Skycheck service wasn’t available, but Air Canada checked my baggage (I only had the one, carryon-sized case) at no extra charge.

I arrived at Pearson International at 8:30, retrieved my bag, and had time for a leisurely breakfast. I had time to search out the Iceland Air registration desk and find out when it would open. It turns out that contrary to the general advice to be in the airport three to four hours ahead of your departure time that you can’t even check in or start the security process until two hours before boarding.

Still, I’m glad I gave myself a wide margin. I could have caught the next flight if the first one had been cancelled. I would have had the time to take an Airporter to Pearson, if necessary.

The journey from there was similarly without incident. The eight hour layover in the Reyjavik airport was, if anything, a little boring. I worried a bit about my flight not showing up on the information board until about an hour before departure, but there was no real problem.

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HamburgAirport

When I landed in Hamburg, I wandered around for a while before I found a group of  WXR cruisers and caught the shuttle to Kiel. I made friends right away on the shuttle (virtual hugs to Margaret Dunlap), while I fought the exhaustion of travel. We arrived at the Atlantic Hotel, checked in, and I met my room mate (more hugs to Becky!).

AtlanticHotelinKiel

I did not nap. I kind of got my second wind in the afternoon and made some more friends (waves at Mike, Oliver, and Alex—Strumpwaffle bonding!), met Mary Robinette Kowal again, Kathy Chung who, in addition to being Security Officer for the cruise, is also the Coordinator for the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC), and K. Tempest Bradford, with whom I took the spring offering of Writing the Other.

A group of us went to Vapiano, a popular European chain of Italian restaurants, for supper, and then returned to the conference room for the evening orientation session and taping of the Tea and Jeopardy podcast (!) featuring His Majesty, Dan Wells 🙂

At this point, I’d been up for nearly 30 hours, and, after a much-needed shower, I collapsed.

The next morning, after breakfast, there was the embarkation information session, during which we were divided into groups for our first event—a scavenger hunt, we collected our baggage, and prepared to board the MSC Fantasia.

The thing I dislike most about travelling is all the queuing. There are line ups everywhere: to check in, get through security, and to board (for each flight), for the shuttle, and to check in to the hotel. Cruise embarkation was no different.

We were bussed to the pier in shifts, based on our scavenger hunt groups, and, once there, had to relinquish our luggage to the handlers, prepare our boarding documents, and—you guessed it—queue up for embarkation.

It was like an amusement park line. Looooong.

MSCFantasia

But once aboard, I located my stateroom, outside of which my luggage had been left, got unpacked, and got my credit card registered before it was time to gather for the scavenger hunt.

MyStateroom

WXR instructors hid throughout the ship, and each team had to solve riddles to find them, hopefully ending up in the buffet at the end, in time to have lunch. My group was a little late starting out and we missed the final check-in point, but we had fun solving the riddles and did bond over the experience.

There was an afternoon workshop that I ended up choosing to miss, on writing through distraction. My more pressing need at the time was for some food and I acquainted myself with the buffet 🙂

I had time to sign up for a wi-fi package for the trip before muster, which is the emergency drill for the ship, and returned to my stateroom in time for our departure from Kiel.

FearAndWritingEmmaNewman

That evening, I attended Emma Newman’s (yes, she of Tea and Jeopardy) presentation on Fear and Writing. Mary intentionally organized Emma’s presentation for the first evening, as fear is every writer’s worst enemy. It was hoped that Emma’s presentation would allow us to set appropriate goals for the cruise. I’ll just say that it was brilliant, and one of my favourites of the cruise.

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At supper, I sat at Howard and Sandra Tayler’s table. It was a great first night getting to know a couple of our hosts, and some of my fellow WXR participants.

Normally, for a cruise, the passengers sit at the same table every night and the serving staff is able to develop a relationship with them. For the WXR cruise, we would be assigned different seating each night at supper so that we could get to know one another better. It made for more difficulty for the serving staff, but a better experience for the retreat’s participants.

Supper that first night was a late sitting (9:30) and by the time I got back to my stateroom, I was just in time to watch the ship (it’s huge—18 storeys I was told) pass under the Øresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Other cruisers went to the uppermost deck of the ship to take pictures, but I didn’t have time to get up there (!)

UnderTheBridge

And that’s where I will leave my journey for now.

In my next instalment, I hope to cover Copenhagen and Stockholm. After that, it will be time for my Next Chapter combination update for July and August, and then I’ll continue with my adventure through Tallinn and St. Petersburg. Then, I think I’ll write a couple of posts to cover my Finland adventure and WorldCon, before I turn to other topics.

Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday will resume through to NaNoWriMo when my next blogging hiatus takes place.

Recent events in Charlottesville, Barcelona, and Turku have my heart aching. Still, the battered thing goes out to all of those affected by extremism and terrorism. We can resist, heal, and make a better world.

Until next I post, be well, be kind, and stay strong, my friends. The world needs your stories now, more than ever!

Caturday Quickie: Honey, I’m home!

Actually, I got home Wednesday afternoon. It’s a six hour drive from London, Ontario back home to Sudbury.

Upon arriving, I immediately got to the unpacking and setting aside of laundry and completely forgot I had an appointment for a massage. It would have been nice after two plus weeks of standing and delivering.

I’ve left a message to reschedule, but haven’t heard back yet . . .

On Thursday, I started by new position. It’s another consultant position, but this should not be as crazy-making as the last one I was offered.

Since then, I’ve been trying to get back on track.

It hasn’t been going so well.

I discovered back in the spring that travelling for the purpose of delivering training no longer serves me well.

I used to be able to write in the evenings and get something done. Now, not so much. And it’s been a challenge also, because I’ve been sharing all sorts of posts and articles about writing process recently. Most of the authors espouse a write anywhere mentality. So I feel guilty for not having written (much) since I left on August 10.

I’ve fallen into the trap of comparing myself to other writers, most of whom have the privilege of writing full time.

That’s not me. I still have a day job.

Also, I’m an introvert. Training all day, while I am good at it, is draining. The group we had to train this time around was lovely. And social. My co-facilitator and myself were invited out once each week. A full day’s training followed by an evening of socializing and then another full day of training is deadly for me.

I probably shouldn’t have accepted every invitation, but I didn’t want to be rude. Plus, this particular group of trainees had all come from away, in two instances leaving family behind until they were settled and established in their jobs. In one case, the trainee’s family remains in Taiwan.

So I went, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself. They’re great people. I just didn’t have the time I needed to recharge by myself.

So all the writing I did while I was away was to revise and submit one short story and to revise my query letter following a webinar (with the fantastic Kristin Nelson—squee!). I’ll share more about that in my next chapter update next weekend.

So now I’ve just about caught up on all of the videos and newsletters and social media I deferred while I was away.

And now I’ll get back to writing.

By the way, London, Ontario is a lovely city. It’s called the forest city and here’s why:

The forest city

The view from my hotel

But I really enjoy being home with Phil (whom I missed enormously) and being able to sleep in my own bed, and getting back to my “normal” life.

Also, it’s nice to be able to help out my mom, who’s had cataract surgery on one eye while I was gone. This week, I get to take her to the second surgery and follow up appointment. It’s more than nice to be able to be here for her.

I’ll get back to regular weekend posting shortly. I have Series discovery and Mel’s movie madness posts in the works. Fun times 🙂

Caturday Quickie

WWC 2014, Day 2: Have pen, will travel, with Jacqueline Guest

You can find out more about Jacqueline at her web site.Jacqueline Guest


 

When I was young, two books saved my life: A Child’s Book of Bible Ethics, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Don’t give up. If you have the passion to write, revise, edit, and make your novels perfect, you will get published.

As a writer, I have adventures. I travel and meet a lot of interesting people. You have to be flexible to make this happen, though.

I went to Inuvik and when I arrived, this weird dude picks me up—on a snow machine. He’s a man of few words. He takes me back to his place for the night. His place is full of hunting gear. (Mel’s note: This story was much more detailed and entertaining in Jacqueline’s telling. I only recorded the highlights.)

I found out later that he was a fixture of the community. People started dropping by, the elders and other villagers, and everyone told him their stories. I learned so much and met most of the community that way.

One of my books, Wild Ride, was written about the spring bear hunt, or rather against it. The ability to raise awareness is the power of the pen.

Another of my books features the Rocky Mountain Rally. I research everything I write, and experience what I can first hand.

Experience equals content.

The Writers’ Union of Canada and other writers’ organizations keep lists of where presenters have been and where they’re wanted. Do your research and find out where you can go to gain your experience.

What is unique about your book? This is your selling point.

History can give you what you need, but you can’t change it.

There’s also a need for what are called “hi-lo” books. It stands for high interest, low vocabulary and is intended to attract reluctant readers or those with learning disabilities who find it difficult to read.

Books become our touchstones, our points of connection with one another.

What if we are all connected?

Put out positive energy. You reap what you sow.


 

Tomorrow: I’ll have a Sundog snippet for you including a couple of writerly events around town and a brief update on the construction.

Ad Astra 2014: The journey there (back again comes later!)

It’s been a challenging week. Having thrown my back out last Sunday, I was bed-bound Monday, but there was work to be done and I decided to go into work Tuesday through Thursday, hobbling like Quasimodo. I’ve blogged those lessons separately.

All week, I’ve been worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it to Ad Astra at all. But here I am, and I’m having a great time.

I had booked Friday off work so I could travel down. The opening sessions weren’t until 7 pm, so I figured that I wouldn’t have to leave until 1 or 2 pm to get here in time. I’d be able to have breakfast with Mom to make up for missing our standing date on Saturdays.

Friday morning, we had a power outage. It’s important that you know this. It has an impact. Later.

At noon, after breakfast and puzzling, I returned home and was going to call the car rental place to come pick me up, and pack while I waited. Unfortunately, I had to wait out some physical discomfort first.

I ended up calling them at 1 pm and was told that they’d be able to pick me up in a half an hour. I packed, as I had planned, and waited.

Turns out the driver went to the wrong residence (we have a couple of apartments up the hill and everyone goes there first).

So I finally got the car, signed the rental agreement, and got it home. It did not have heated seats as I’d hoped. My back would have appreciated a little heat for the drive.
The only things I had left to do were to check the weather for the weekend and to print out my Google maps route.

The problem was that the internet was out. I went into the basement and tried to reset the cable modem. I gave it the magic three tries, in fact, before I gave up. By this time, it was 2 pm and it was starting to rain.

Since the temperature was hovering around zero degrees, the rain was supposed to turn into freezing rain before long. I did not want to be driving in that.

So I called Mom and her internet was fine, so I packed the car, went over, and printed out what I needed. Unfortunately, her printer was out of colour ink and wouldn’t print the maps in grey scale. Plus, Google kept giving me instructions that included pulling several U-turns. A map wouldn’t help very much with that.

At 2:35, I was off, and it rained steadily all the way down.

I’d never actually been in this area of Toronto, well Richmond Hill, before, and so I just trusted that the U-turns were errors on Google’s part and tried to follow the directions otherwise.

Turns out that if a turn is greater than 90 degrees, Google calls it a U-turn. Still, I made the journey in four hours and found the hotel largely without incident

It took me about an hour to search fruitlessly for a parking space (there was also a medical conference, a tennis tournament, and at least one hockey tournament here), check in, finally find a parking spot (next to the bin), and make my way to the registration area.

nicebutsmall1The room here is small, and set a half-floor down, but it has a heated bathroom floor and really, for one person, it’s all I need. I’ve just been spoiled travelling for my employer where upgrades are de rigueur.

I basically dropped everything at the room and hobbled.

 

nicebutsmall2nicebutsmall3

Registration was easy and I got a lovely little package of gifts including a book, Flashpoint trading cards (I think – it could be a booster pack for a game), and some consuite drink vouchers.

By then, I’d missed the opening ceremonies and the walking tour of the facilities. I attended two panels that night, saw, but did not approach Robert J. Sawyer (he was often talking with someone and I didn’t want to intrude), reconnected with Marie Bilodeau, who gave me an awesome compliment, and then had a very late supper while I listened to Klingon karaoke.

Just to be clear, people were not singing karaoke in Klingon, that was just the name of the event.

When I got back to my room, I discovered the microwave did not work. Another point against my sore back as I’d have to do without a warm wheat bag for the night. I got that fixed up this morning.

I’m going to begin blogging the sessions I attended, but only on the weekends. I have to go back to work next week, so I will not be spending my writing time with further bloggage. I’ve had to pace myself because of the back, so I shouldn’t be blogging Ad Astra forever. Just a few weeks. Probably enough to see me through to the next conference 😉

So that’s how I got here.

More fun to come.

Sundog snippets: Hardy northern chick 1, winter highways 0

Just a quick note about today.

I was on the road, once again, for work. And once again, I was headed for Toronto (I’ll be here all week). Driving. I like to be in control of my own destiny 😉

I’m going to observing a course with an eye to future delivery. I’ll blog that once the week is over.

The issue was weather. This morning, it was snowing and blowing and I was not looking forward to the drive. I checked out the Weather Network for all points. Parry Sound and Barrie are snow belt cities.

It looked like the snow was going to follow me all the way down.

I got stuck behind ploughs not once, but twice, and stuck behind a transport toting heavy equipment.

As soon as I hit the Parry Sound city limits until I reached the district of Muskoka, I was caught in white out conditions.

There was a bizarre accident. I think a transport had stopped on the side of the road because of the white outs and an SUV didn’t see it until too late, swerved, and ended up on top of the guard rail and snow bank.

White outs again around Orillia.

Then some mystery slow down just south of Barrie. I saw no evidence of anything that would actually slow anyone down. I think it was just a chain reaction kind of thing. That cleared up by canal road.

I still made it here in five and a half hours.

I count it a triumph 🙂

Sundog snippet

First, a few notes

Flight from Vancouver to Toronto

Flight from Vancouver to Toronto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My flight was seven hours.  I had to be at the airport (a 20 minute drive) an hour ahead of time, fly to Toronto and have a brief layover before boarding my connecting flight to Vancouver.  There’s a three hour time difference between Ontario and BC.

Having arrived in Vancouver, I had to then make my way to Surrey.  I asked hour much it would be for a shuttle.  Even the flat rate was more than I was prepared to spend.

So I back-tracked, bought a train ticket, and rode the sky train for another hour and a half.

At the terminus station, I still had to catch a taxi to get to the hotel.

So, altogether, I spent about ten hours in transit and though it was only four-ish when I got here, I was done.

I checked in, got to my room, and discovered something:

I had to pay for internet access, and I could only pay for either in-room or meeting room access.  I opted for room access, hoping that my smart(-er than me) phone would have enough connectivity to tweet.

After supper and a bath, I went to bed, about eleven pm Pacific, but about two am Eastern time.

I woke up at 3 am.

Though I did my best, I only managed to send one tweet before my phone bogged down altogether.  I haven’t been able to send or receive much of anything since.

Also, Kristin Nelson was unable to attend, her flight from Colorado having been cancelled due to the weather.

I dealt with these small disappointments and have since had an absolute blast (so far).  Will be posting the day’s sessions and my notes as I go, but these will likely be at least a day late.