Canine Comparisons

It is amazing how much bigger they are in your head.

Quinn is now the age Joella was when we got her. And in my mind, Quinn is much smaller than Jo. Jo was bigger, taller, goofier in her long-legged adolescence. So I went digging through my plethora of saved images and found a handful or so of Joella from that age. None are very good. They’re poorly scanned copies of prints since, back then, digital photos were not a thing. And I know I have hundreds (thousands?) photos of Jo, just not digital.

Jo’s long legs were a sign of the future. She was growing too fast and developed panosteitis, a painful “growing pains” condition some dogs can get. We changed her diet several times in an effort to curb it but the damage was already done.

Jo also was different in personality. She was withdrawn, quiet, and not very trusting for several months until she figured out we were it. Her previous family thought she was stupid and must have told her that on a regular basis. They gave her away to an acquaintance of mine who trained dogs (and was their trainer). She had her for about 2 weeks then gave Jo to us. Her training methods were brutal. I found this out when she came over to show me how to get Jo to walk loose leash. I was horrified. Very much the “I am the alpha dog, you will do what I say” crap. I’m surprised Joella didn’t have a broken neck by the time we called it quits. We never had her over again. I don’t even think we’ve spoken since then.

We had to work with Joella for a long time to get her confidence up, to instill in her that she was a wonderful dog and we would never hurt her or treat her bad like she had been in the past. She was a dream to train because she would do anything for praise. She wasn’t food motivated (pain.in.the.ass) but tell her she was a good girl? She’d do anything. Jo grew up to know over 30 service dog specific cues (requests) in addition to the basics (although her recall was on her terms).

And I miss her every day.

Then there’s Quinn. She does not have Jo’s baggage. We have closely watched Quinn’s food intake to prevent the growing pain thing. And we have called her a good girl, loved on her, treated her with kindness since the day we brought her home. And the breeder is reputable, has good lines, and loved Quinn and her siblings. Quinn is food motivated and is just now desiring pets and praise as we train. And while they are both the same breed with similar markings, they don’t really look alike.

I like that they are so different. I like that when I look at Quinn I see her, not a ghost of Joella. I like that I am forced to rethink how to train a service dog. In some ways, they are very alike. They can’t help but be. They share some Rottie quirks and hard-headedness. And I like that, too.

I love both my girls. Quinn has wiggled her way into a place in my heart next to Jo. She’ll never be Joella. She’ll never have that same bond I have/had with Joella. And that’s okay. Because she’s formed her own unique place and links.

these first 2 are pre-digital images


digital

Wixing Mords

(this post was supposed to appear a few days ago but there were…issues.)

I don’t know the trigger for it when I can’t speak worth beans. Words come out in a jumble, out of order, misspelled, and, most often, the wrong words altogether. Sometimes the wrong word and the right word are close sounding. Like today, L and I were talking about the dog lot. She was mowing it and we were discussing when to scoop the poop, before or after she mowed. I wanted to say she could “scoop the poop after, easier to see”. But I kept saying “spook goose easier”. Sometimes I just laugh and move on but there are times when I get really mad and it just makes it worse. I could see the words spelled in my head but when I tried to read the words, it didn’t come out right. Luckily, L is a decent interpreter of Paulaisms.

Had another later. I wanted to ask where in a book she had stopped. I’m trying to remember how badly I mangled it. Something about “way the where” with some other words that were several words smerged together. L could not figure out what I was saying and we finally gave up. None of the words made any sense in any way. It wasn’t a rhyming error this time. About a half hour later, I turned to her and asked again, and it came out right.

Sometimes they come out that bad because I’m tired. Or have a headache. But most times its just…because.

The scariest is when I substitute words and have no clue I am doing it. My most famous is saying bathtub instead of picnic table. I said it four or five times before L could convince me there was no way we were ever putting a bathtub outside on a concrete pad. Every once in a while, I’ll still say bathtub. Another is I kept calling the riding mower a vacuum cleaner. I can almost see the connection there at least!

This is a problem I have had for, like, ever. A few years ago after Mom’s brain tumor thing, I had my brain checked out. Something we had always laughed at suddenly became not so funny. And because of the stress I was under during that time, my speech was really twisted. My neuro and I decided that my already existing problem was being made worse by a medication I am taking for migraines. And since I was enjoying not having as many migraines, we decided to not mess with it. Now that the neck surgery has happened and a lot of my headaches have stopped, I hope to see him again soon and maybe we can start decreasing that med.

I’m thinking about giving this gift to one of the characters from BGCFA. When I get around to writing it, I’ll have plenty of experience to create her word spaghetti!

Temporary Site Problem

Seems as though some one managed to get past stuff and “infect” this website and one other (not really a virus type of thing, just injection of some crap). I *think* I have found the cause. Until then, the themes may be jumping around and looking weird until I find one I like again. Dagnabbit.

Sorry for the weirdness. Everything should be working and all links are valid (at least those site based).

Please let me know if you see ANY advertisement on this site. I do not have any. I do not want any. I will remove any that make their way in.

Precognition or Just Bad Luck?

To Sleep was a hard book to write. It started out in one direction then the logistics of it (a reader can only suspend so much belief before the book becomes airborne) got too tangled. I set it aside for a year or more then tried again, this time going in a different direction. But some tangles lived on.

When I first wrote the draft for To Sleep in ’09 (it was called The Awakening back then), the MCs were given these touchscreen devices to interface with the System. They were called the Individual System Access Device. They played with what to name them ISAD was, well, sad so they decided to call them their PADs. In 2010 Apple came out with the iPAD.

Another part of To Sleep that was dropped was the initial scout ship was kinda shaped like an egg, smooth with no visible markings whatsoever, and had been in orbit around Saturn, hidden as one of that planet’s many moons. I dropped that part for various reasons but kept the description for one of the main ships that first arrive. In 2012, prior to To Sleep being released, Saturn’s moon Methone was finally imaged up close. It is perfectly smooth with very little visible markings.

In the Earth I created for the Soliloquy series (To Sleep, To Dream, Perchance, To Die), the Religious Right had gotten a firm hold in the US gov’t to the point they are a political party on their own. If you have read the first book, you know what the Religious Right attempt to do.

Tonight, as we wait for the numbers to start getting counted, I hope and pray that yet another bit from that damn book does not come true. Let us come back together as a species and heal the mental wounds we have inflicted on each other. Followers on both sides have gotten nasty. We all need to move on, one way or another.

Shutting Down Cortana

I don’t like Cortana. Don’t want it. Didn’t ask for it. I find the entire thing not just a waste of resources on my already choked computer, but an invasion of my privacy.

If you want to turn the dang thing off though, ha. Microsoft took care of the “off” switch a long time ago. And now even the registry change isn’t quite enough. (see how to do that here but know what you are doing!) There is one way to turn her off but it has to be done after nearly every major update it seems. It’s a simple matter of renaming a folder.

You will see “Cortana” running as a process in the Task Manager. Right click on the little darling and select “open file location”. This will take you to the folder you need to rename.

Right click the name of the folder and select “Rename”. You want to simply add “.old” to the end of it. Change nothing else. Hit the Enter key. It will tell you the file is in use and do you want to try again. Leave this window alone.

Go back to the Task Manager. Maneuver it so that it is near the “try again” window.

Select the Cortana process and click the “end task”. Then quickly move the cursor over and click the “try again” button. If you were successful, you won’t see that window again. Cortana wants to live and she returns very quickly. If you see that window again, then just simply repeat the end task but be faster, grasshopper.

Next time you see that dang Cortana process running, you’ll have to do it again. This will make the 3rd time I’ve had to do it. I’ve turned it off in the registry so I don’t know what the program is doing. And that is what i don’t like.

Writing the Disabled Character, Part 1

Here I am using the term “disabled” loosely. This can mean anything from quadriplegia to asthma. If an illness/condition is as much a part of their character sketch as their humor, then consider them a “disabled character”.

There’s lots of things to keep in mind but right now I want to focus on medication. Some of us Real Disabled Folks take a lot of them. Currently I have eight full-time prescribed medications and two supplements, resulting in me taking seventeen pills and four puffs on an inhaler. Remembering to take them, and taking them at the right time, is a pain in the ass. Add in the Filling of the Pill Organizer Thingies? And I am so done with taking meds. But wait, we’re not done. I also have five as needed medications so I need to keep track of when I last took one and if one of them is going to interfere with something else.

Many conditions you can saddle your character with are going to require a medication. You don’t have to name it, but you can mention them taking it. The frustration of it. The “crap, did I take it this morning?” or the “is it Friday already?” (because we know what day due to the pill organizer lids). This doesn’t have to hamper your character. It can add a certain depth to her. It can display a part of her personality in unique, distinct ways. Is she OCD? There ya go! Bottles lined up, tray filled regularly, alarms on her phone, etcetera. Is she the complete opposite? Does she have alarms set up not because she is OCD but because she otherwise would never remember? And yeah, there’s apps for that. Sense of humor? She can give them all names. Or mess up the generic names.

And yet this can be done in simple little passing scenes that not only set up the character, but set up her life while a the same time carving out the shape of your character. You can have that character be mature and take her medication like a good girl. Or be a rebel and purposely miss doses. Or have them accept the things as just part of life and handle it with as little thought as what side of her toast to butter.

If you do give them a disability, even a mild one like hypothyroidism, Google is your friend. So is your own physician. Read through some forums. Understand what the condition is like with just as much expertise as you would any other part of your novel. Don’t mess it up. Because disabled readers will notice. We’re so excited to see “us” in books but don’t think we don’t ignore mistakes. If the character takes a pill one morning and bitches about how she has to take it every morning, she damn well better take it ever morning. She stay over with her new love, where’s that medication? Even if she decides it is okay to skip a day, mention it. Or don’t mention the medication at all. You can say she has a condition and just not mention medication which would be perfectly fine. We read books all the time where the characters can go six months and never go pee so we can handle a disabled character not mentioning her medication.

Back It Up

I’ve talked about this before. Lectured on it. Gonna do it again ’cause it’s been a while.

Back up your work, back up your work, back up your work. In as many places as possible in as many ways as you can think of. Some you do every day to catch ever new word, phrase, file change, whatever. Others less often and purely as backups. Others purely as syncs. Redundant? Sure. But when it crashes and you have a copy off site? One not touched by the virus? That’s not a happy dance, that’s a heart that is still beating.

First, let’s discuss terminology. A backup is just that. It takes the files and copies them. Any that are changed or are new on Source are changed or copied on Destination. Any file that is missing from Source is not deleted from Destination. So if I have file A, delete B, change C, and create D, the Destination (if I had done a backup yesterday) would now have Files A, B, an updated C, and the new D.

A sync is different. A sync is essentially making a mirror image of the Source onto the Destination each time. If yesterday my Destination had A, B, and C, today it would have A, C, and D.

A backup is good because you never lose anything, unless two files have the same filename and are in the same location. But backups can be memory hogs at the Destination. A sync is good because it is the exact copy you have on your computer. The Destination will only take up the same amount of memory as the Source. The drawback is if you sync the wrong copy.

Sync can also go both ways. Let’s say you work at your desktop and sync it to the cloud. You then go to your laptop, and now you can sync the cloud to the laptop. Any new work you had on the desktop is now on the laptop. No carrying a memory key around. Cloud files are accessible wherever you have a wifi location. But again, sync will erase one file and replace it with another if the size and/or date is different.

I have a desktop computer. On it are two hard drives. One is the main one, the other is a holder of sorts. Also on the computer is a memory key with a lot of memory on it. Holder drive and USB drive sync themselves to the Main Drive daily. If necessary, I just grab that key and go. On it are all my Works In Progress (WIP) files, emails, and some other stuff. The problem with all this is: it is all at one location, making copies of the main drive. If the main drive is corrupt or have a virus? So do they because they are directly connected. I keep a sync copy on Lorna’s PC, connected via the home network. But again, same location. Should the house burn down or lightning strike us because God has had enough of my sarcasm (ha, like that’d happen), all that dataz is gonez. Same location. You need at least one copy of stuff off site. Away from your house. Sure I can grab that key but, really, if a fire happens or lightning strikes, I got other things on my mind. Like saving my arse and my pets’ arses.

There’s a few ways to do that. One is a cloud service. Another is to remote location. For example, using a program such as Ammyy, you can connect to a friend’s computer and keep your files there. (I use Ammyy to access my home computers while away.) A third way is to have two external drives. Do your backup onto one, take it to work, bring home the one that was already there. Use it the next week for the next backup, exchange, rinse, repeat. Just keep it in a desk drawer at work. Done. External drives are getting smaller. I don’t trust memory keys for this. I consider them for simple file transfer use only. Maybe one of the newer, expensive ones vs the cheap models made in the shape of a ninja. Maybe.

Okay, onto the cloud! My webhost, Dreamhost, has a really cool cloud service called DreamObjects. To that I do a backup and a sync once a week. I like both because with the backup, I never lose a file. And with the sync, it is the latest where I had it last and uncluttered by all the stuff I deleted everywhere else.

Now, to access all that.

To do the backing and syncing, I use Syncback Pro. Love. It. Set it up with what I want it to do, set up a schedule, fuhgitaboutit. I can also tell it what to do with files that are different in one way but same in another. I can tell it to ignore certain file extensions. It does it all in the background. Or it can do the scan, gather the info on changes, and get permission before implementing any or all of them. I have this running on my desktop, my laptop, and Lorna’s PC.

To access the cloud, I use CyberDuck. I can access the files, download, delete, rename, whatever. I can upload too but don’t often use it for that. It is an easy program, small space, and good support.

Sometimes I use FTP to upload a file so I can quickly access it or send it to someone for them to download (which is easier to do than with a cloud, which I have set to Private). For that I use Filezilla. DreamHost use to allow us to keep non-webfiles on a server but they stopped that. It is where I kept a sync so I could access it quickly. Now I use Filezilla to maintain my websites and files for the sites. It is extremely easy to use.

On my tablet and phone (both Android), I use AndFTP for FTP stuff and S3Anywhere Pro for cloud access. S3Anywhere was a godsend when I found it and finally got it to work. Extremely simple to use and very easy to set up IF you understand what needs to be put into each blank. I think it may be the only one available for accessing DreamObjects on Android. If you use a Big Name Cloud like Drive, then your options are much better.

As for Drive and the others, I once used one. Which one is Google’s? Anyway, used it for a few months for a few files because I was writing between my laptop and my desktop and then we were editing that document. The cloud service corrupted the file. We found a spam phone number in the document. And twice it only had half the document. So I don’t use them. Somethings I try twice to give them a second chance. But this? Nope. Don’t go messing with my writing files!