Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, June 2-8, 2019

A fairly substantial batch of thoughty links to get your mental corn popping this week.

The BBC shares the latest in the Sudan crisis: the African Union suspends Sudan’s membership.

Richard Nieva reports that YouTube will ban supremacist and hoax videos in tougher hate speech policy. CNet

Denise Brodey: how one billion disabled people hit the business radar. Forbes

Liza Gross wonders, can efforts to bottle MDMA’s magic transform psychiatry? The Verge

Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall say that work-life balance is a myth. Here’s what they recommend instead. Time

Knvul Sheikh: creative types reserve a special corner of the brain for dreaming big. Scientific American

Matt Reynolds: the natural genius of ants is helping us build better algorithms. Wired

Verge Science tries to decipher ratspeak with DeepSqueak.

Robert Macfarlane takes us into the invisible city beneath Paris. The New Yorker

Franchesca Street takes us on a tour of abandoned sacred places around the world. CNN

The BBC reports on the long-lost Lewis Chessman found in Edinburgh family’s drawer.

Mara Johnson-Groh looks at how art advances astronomy. UnDark

SciShow Space news introduces us to the forbidden planet and new ways to produce oxygen in space.

Andrew Zaleski: urban forests are dying, but Baltimore shows us how to bring them back. Popular Science

Emma Stevens sings “Blackbird” in Mi’kmaq (yes, even Sir Paul himself made a thing about this performance).

Thanks for stopping by and, until next tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

ThoughtyThursday2019

The next chapter: February 2018 update

February was a short month. Even so, it seemed to fly by.

As I’ve mentioned in my weekly posts, I’m continuing to struggle. Rather, after February 10th, I stopped struggling and recognized the critical fact that I can’t do it all. I can’t work full time, come home and take care of the dog full time, and fit in blogging, newslettering, column writing and still have room left for my WIP (not to mention the rest of my life).

It sucks that, for now, I’ve decided that it’s the WIP that has to go. But, honestly, when I stopped writing, I was just too exhausted to even think about it. A couple of weeks in, my thoughts started to gravitate toward Playing with Fire again, and I see that as a good sign. I’m still going to let it sit for a while longer, to see if the other, more chaotic aspects of my life sort themselves out.

I think I have to simplify my life rather than complicating it.

FebruaryProgress

Not unsurprisingly, I only hit 24% of my 15,000-word writing goal on PwF.

I met my 5,600-word goal for the blog, came in at 72% of my goal for my DIY MFA column, and 140% of my 4,000-word goal for the SWG newsletter.

Overall, that works out to 60% of my writing goal for the month.

I realized, belatedly, that I’d put in short fiction goals for January and February that I didn’t even look at. Again, I didn’t have the energy or attention.

I’m going to wait until the end of March to see how I’ll be moving the goal posts.

In other news

It hasn’t rained/melted significantly since Phil made his initial repairs in the basement, so he hasn’t been able to test them. The spring forecast predicts a warmer than normal March with more rain and snow. Until we can be sure the problem is fixed, the basement is verboten to Torvi, which is sad.

Phil continues to struggle at work. More problems crop up. He deals with them to the best of his ability, but his employer’s solution will still be some time in the implementation. In the meantime, Phil returns home utterly spent and frustrated, and largely unable to deal with anything else.

My training duties at work are done for the time being, but I still have next week’s learning event to travel to and ongoing coaching and mentoring responsibilities. And there are still problems with our pay system which will mean at least one, and likely several, small to negligible pay periods in my future. I’m waiting for that shoe to drop, too.

Post-ablation life is kind of weird, but I’ve been told that ye olde pipes can sputter for three to six months, off and on, before my body finally settles into its new normal. Metaphorical fingers still crossed.

And now, I’m catching a cold 😦

Torvi will be spayed this month, as well as get chipped, and receive her final vaccination (rabies). After that, Phil and I are formally Torvi’s humans and I can feel more confident about taking her on longer walks, to places where she’ll meet other dogs, and to obedience training.

We really need the obedience training.

Honestly, Torvi’s not any more of a devil than any of our other dogs. She’s just so big, she’s super-strong, she doesn’t know her own strength, and her puppy enthusiasm can result in injury.

Here she is, napping with Phil. It’s a good thing we have a king-sized bed. She likes to streeeeetch out 🙂

We’ll see what the next month brings.

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

Sundog snippet: Chaotic life is chaotic

I will try to keep this a snippet, but there’s a lot happening these days.

Work

The uncertainty continues.

My former manager is continuing in her acting position as senior manager until December 31. In the meantime, one acting manager has yielded to another, this time, a colleague, talented and deserving.

Two other friends from the consultant pool have been appointed to training coordinator, the position I held as an acting consultant for sixteen months. One of my friends will be handling coordination for my business line and the other for another business line. I’m very happy for them. The position will teach them a lot.

The new training is well underway. I delivered the Sudbury session the second and third weeks in September. Then I mentored a couple of acting advisors on our team to help them learn the way we monitor our new agents, post-training.

I’ll be doing a little more mentoring, and taking on the supervision of an agent returning to work.

Then I’ll be getting ready for the next round of training in November. After that, I’m not really sure what’s going to happen.

I got my projects from the summer done, but beyond that, I don’t know if anything more will come of them.

With all the major players in acting roles, we can’t really do more than react.

Phil’s got his own burden at work, but it’s not my story to tell, so I’ll have to leave it at that.

Usually, when things are going well for me at work, they go poorly for him, and vice versa. Now we both seem to be in a bit of a jam.

Home

The city engineer stopped by my mom’s last week. Apparently, Union Gas will be by to bury the gas line properly again on Monday.

The Gas Line

Then, the rock will be blasted out. As you can see, the blasting mats are already in place.

The Blasting Mats

Then, they’ll be tearing up the driveway and repaving and, I suppose, getting the retaining wall up.

The engineer is supposed to be coming by with the work order for Phil to sign off on. He says he has a lovely railing for the top of the retaining wall.

You know about Nuala’s troubles from last week’s post. She’s making headway, but after the first glucose curve, the vet increased her dosage of insulin. Her sugars were too high. We’re in a holding pattern there until this Thursday, when we’ll take Nu in for her next glucose curve.

Phil and I are growing accustomed to our new schedule, but between that, the gloomy weather we’ve been having, and work uncertainty, we’re both exhausted.

At least, I’ll have my normal salary to look forward to for the next six months or so. We have some hefty vet bills to pay off.

Creatively

As you may have guessed from my Next Chapter post, I’m trying to focus my energies on my writing. It’s what keeps me sane.

Unfortunately, trying to cram everything in tends to wear me out. I know this, and still, I do it.

When a writing friend came to town last month, I’d intended to meet her. She was reading at my mom’s church on the Sunday and then at the Public Library on the Thursday.

On Sunday, I was feeling poorly and decided not to go. I’m not big into church these days anyway. The week of her visit was also one of two weeks of training I was delivering. When Thursday arrived, I got home from work and essentially collapsed. It wasn’t until after nine that I realized I had missed her presentation.

More recently, I wanted to get out to the launch of an art show another friend was having, but events conspired against me and I couldn’t get away.

It really is true that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Otherwise

I have a number of friends going through tough times.

They say news, whether bad or good, is supposed to come in threes, but it’s been far more than that, and since I’m such a hermit these days, I often don’t know what’s happened until after the fact.

I can only give them my moral support in most situations and wish them well.

I sincerely hope all of this misfortune comes to an end soon and that life resumes a better balance for everyone.

And that’s where I’ll leave you, with my very best wishes for a speedy recovery, a soothing of grief, a securing of contentment, if not happiness, and a world of ease to all your troubles. This, too, shall pass.

The warmest of hugs to you all.

Sundog snippet

The leave begins

I’m going to be a bit scarce, or scarcer that I have been recently.

I have my time off and I’m going to use it to catch up on a few projects/straighten out my head.

What’s up:

It’s taken much longer than I intended, but I am coming down to the final, final, FINAL revision of Initiate of Stone before I send her off to the editor who expressed interest last year and to a few select beta readers.  I’m going to be revising my pitch/query and start targeting Agents and small publishers.

I’ll be attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference from October 25-7, and I have a pitch session booked with the wonderful Kristin Nelson (squee!)  I’m very excited, but after putting IoS to bed (for now) I will likely spend the next week prepping for SiWC.  I’m going to be reviewing my idea files for what I want to work on next.

While I wait to hear back from editors/agents/publishers about IoS, I’m going to be starting on/returning to other novel-length projects like Gerod and the Lions.

Come November, though, I’m going to be tackling another project for NaNoWriMo (!)  I only have until the 19th off, but I’m thinking it’s time to get something else up and out there.  This may be the idea file project I choose to prep for SiWC.

So that’s pretty much my writing ambitions.

I have said that I would participate in Khara House’s October Submit-o-Rama, and even participated in Kasie Whitener’s Just Write 2013 challenge for the purpose, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get a pile of short stories submitted.

If it happens, it happens.  I have some markets targeted, but I want to focus on my novels.  That’s where I need to be.

On a more personal note, I’m going to be trying to work in a little more physical activity.  I’ve gained weight just in the six weeks since I quit smoking.  It’s not good.  The clothes are tight.  And I haven’t been as faithful with implementing new habits as I was with changing the old.  I need something that will work with my life when I go back to the day-job.  This bears some thought.

I have no doubt that when I do go back, things will be as hectic as ever, so the new fitness routine has to be something that will let me get the sleep I need, get all the housework and daily chores done, and still accommodate work and writing.  And then there’s all that TV I like to watch 😛

I need to finish off my household clean-up (which stalled in September) and try to get the gardens into some kind of order before the snow falls.  I have a few projects I’d like to get to as well: 2 ceiling fans to install, my office door to strip and refinish, and one of our external doors to repaint.  I’m also looking at some storage fixes, cabinets for the bedroom and bathroom, and a new bookshelf for my office.

These last I’m not going to rush, since I think I’ll have enough with my trip to Surrey, another shortish trip to visit a friend in southern Ontario, and all the writing I want to do.

And then there’s Writerly Goodness.  I’m thinking it’s time for a face-lift, and maybe a new

English: Epic Win title card.

English: Epic Win title card. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

name.  My domain will remain the same, but I’m thinking that a more appropriate name might be Totally Epic, or Epic Win (for my interest in epic fantasy).

I could go with something more general because I’m not just about the epic fantasy, I have urban fantasy, YA and MG, science fiction, and even some cross-over type novels in my idea file.  Plus I still write poetry and short stories, some of which are not speculative at all.

How about Improbable Possibilities (one definition of SF), or Speculations on Fiction?  There are some old suggestions: Phigment’s (Phigment is an imaginary dragon—the site would belong to her), or MelanieM/Millennium.  This last was from a friend who realized saying MelanieM sounds an awful lot like millennium.  Does something else present itself to you as clever?  I think I might just put a poll in my post this week 😉

A number of recent writer interviews have been delayed, perhaps indefinitely, so I probably won’t be posting much more than once a week (outside of SiWC, which I hope to blog and maybe even Twitter).  If I have nothing to offer by way of updates, I may not post at all in any given week.

Just to let you know.  I’m still here, but I’m going to be trying to shift my focus away from the interwebz for a bit and get back to the reason I started this whole platform-building gig in the first place—my writing.

I’ve been seeking balance for some time.  Maybe I’ll find it in the next five weeks?  Who knows?

Thanks for your patronage, and for your patience.

Work-Life-Creative balance … and resources!

I was inspired to write a little about work-life balance because of something my manager sent out to the team last week.

It was his newsletter from David Irvine, titled Quantity or quality of life, what really matters?

In the article, David recommends the following:

  • Relax, stop entering data in the computer, and take a deep breath;
  • S-l-o-w d-o-w-n long enough to actually look into the eyes of a person you care about and experience the love between you;
  • Smile at a stranger;
  • Stop and let the beauty and magnificence of a plant in your office be a part of your awareness;
  • Offer a word of acknowledgement and encouragement to a colleague;
  • Do something that leaves you nourished: have a hot bath; go for a walk in a part of nature that you enjoy; spend time with a good friend;
  • Let a child make you laugh;
  • Stop and watch the sun go down behind the hill and experience, with awe and gratitude, the beauty and wonder that surrounds you.

Today, Julie Czerneda sent this wonderful video my way:

It got me thinking …

When I lived in Windsor, the starlings that lived in the Ambassador Bridge were, quite frankly, a nuisance.  When I saw how they flew in murmurations though, I was touched and inspired to write a poem about it.

Sometimes all you need is a moment of beauty to give you pause, and help reprioritize your life.

Last week, Phil and I lost our internet service.  No email, blogging, or other social media for an entire week.  My initial reaction was panic, but then I recognized the crisis for the gift it was and took an unplanned, but very welcome SoMe fast.

Years ago, I just worked, and worked part time at that.  I fit my writing in when I could (which wasn’t often, because I wasn’t a writer then, I just thought I was).  Then the day came when I had the epiphany, and I worked the day job, then came home and wrote.  Where did I find the time?  I realized what was important to me and found the time for it.  I reprioritized.

When I became a trainer, not much changed, until another epiphany, this time at work, led me to the world of informal learning and social learning.  It was another kind of reordering in my life.  I found the time at work not only to do my job, but to feed my ravenous appetite for knowledge.  It’s paid great dividends for me: Service Excellence Award and an acting position as a Training Coordinator among other, less formal forms of recognition for my hard work.

Last fall, when I first started blogging and building my platform, then joined Author Salon and started critiquing my butt off, I started to falter.  I was doing too much again.  The three to four hours a night I used to devote purely to my writing was suddenly spent curating content, blogging, critiquing, and doing anything but working on my novel.

In the month of May, I hardly spent any time writing at all.  Broke my heart in all kinds of ways.

Last week, when we lost service, I wrote.  I reconnected with my work in a way that I hadn’t been able to for months.  I realized where my priorities should be.

So now I’m back working seven and a half hour days, building the platform at night, and yes, writing.  It’s not perfect yet.  Two hours of tonight’s allotment has already disappeared, but now I see where the fulcrum is.  Now I can learn how to find my balance again.

All I needed was a good “claque western” as the Northern Ontario French say 🙂

How do you keep your work-life balance?  Do you?  What challenges have you faced and have you found a workaround or kluge?

Now for the resources:

I’m a big fan of Cammy Bean of Kineo too, and gleaned a handful of wonderful resources courtesy of her blog (which I subscribe to):

Until next week, the Learning Mutt is signing off 🙂