Fenced In

We need to rebuild the dog lot fence. It won’t be in the same area but on the other side of the house, going down into the garden (or what once was the garden). That means the pear tree has to go. We’ll start measuring soon, deciding the size. Then calling around for estimates. The original dog lot was HUGE. The dogs miss it muchly.

The old fence was put in, wow, how many years ago? Long time ago, that’s for sure. Fifteen maybe? The part that attaches to the back porch was done later. And the Dog Deck was done back in ’09. Yeah, time flies when you’re pouring money into an old house. Which happens a lot here.

We have decided to hire a company to put it in versus us doing it ourselves. We could have a fence party, which is how the first one went in. It was a blast! But now all our friends are as old as we are. Instead, we’ll have a fence opening party and folks can bring their dogs to pee on every post. Having someone else put one in will cost more but hopefully will last longer. Before the limbs fell, most of the posts were being held up by sheer determination and honeysuckle vines.

Anyway, this is a Google maps pic of the house. The red line is where the fence used to be. Well, technically it is still there but parts of it were smashed. The yellow is all they have left and includes the Dog Deck. The pink line is about where we’d like to put it.

Another reason we need a dog fence? We have three big dogs. Mike is the smallest at 60lbs, Whisper is around 75lbs, and Sam at 85lbs. And sometime in the spring, we’ll be getting a puppy. They’ll all need space to stretch out and run.

Yes, you read that right. I’ll be getting a puppy. We’ve talked about it for a while. It’s still not written in stone final (I owe Elena an essay) but we’re getting things done that need to be done, even if the puppy doesn’t happen. Dog fence tops the list. Next is lift for truck. If I am to get a puppy to train as a Service Dog, then I need to go places more. That’s the whole point, to get me out of the house. And I can’t do that because I can’t load the chair by myself. After that is more general house arrangement stuff. You know how it goes. One thing leads to another. You can’t get one thing done until you get this other thing but you can’t get that one done until that one over there is done and….yeah, old houses. Gotta love ‘em.

The Pig Didn’t Fly Because….

I finally found something I was looking for! An article from the perspective of the woman with the pig on the plane. If she were legitimate, one would exist. On my one hand, perhaps she is. Perhaps she does have issues and truly desired to have this animal with her on her trip. And that is her right according to the Air Carriers Access Act (links at the bottom) which covers planes which the ADA does not.

She (I’ll call her RB) is upset from it, of course. RB has had to take her Facebook page down. Photos of RB’s face were posted on a news site and people who were in photos with RB on her Facebook page prior to the incident were not happy to be identified with her. Go friends and co-workers! Love to you, too!

I tried to read the article in a way that I would understand her side. RB must be miserable and even more mentally pushed back. And I did try. I always do. Because I always hold out the hope that there was a mistake somewhere, you know? That surely to shit someone really did not take a pig on a plane, faking it as an emotional support animal!

But there are a few things that stuck out. And this was someone who was not with her but speaking from elsewhere but it does make me wonder even further. Anyway, Victor Kinoian, the owner of My Pet Piggy LLC where the woman bought her pig, says she (the passenger) worked with the airlines to ensure the airlines was aware she was arriving with her pig. Then he says:

“American Airlines knew they needed to accommodate my customer, so after calling & triple checking for approval to make sure a pig as an ESA (emotional support animal) was allowed to fly, she received no help from them that day or placed in an appropriate seat to ensure safe travels & proper accommodation for her ESA.”

Red flag. For one, it is not the airlines that determines the seating. The passenger does. Why did SHE pick a seat in the middle of the plane? Why not the bulkhead? As a person who has flown with a Rottweiler, I didn’t expect the airline to appropriately seat me when I got there. I expected me to pick out the best seat ahead of time. I’m not a child. And she’s not mentally ill, she’s not mentally challenged, she has a need for emotional support. That means she has the mental capacity to determine this for herself. Ahead of time. This wasn’t Southwest she was flying.

And she didn’t need help from them. She could walk to her seat by herself. She could put her bag away by herself. Her special needs were for emotional support. If she needed special accommodation to assist with that (seated early to help with crowds, for example), then she would have gotten it.

“After passengers became very standoffish towards Hobey, he had an accident, & as we all know, accidents do happen.”

Um, not by Service Dogs. I would be devastated if my SD pooped on a plane. If this guy who is selling pigs to be emotional support animals thinks “accidents happen”, then he’s an idiot. I know that pigs not eating “slop” must have better smelling poop than pigs that do, but we’re talking about a very crammed airplane. I don’t care who poops, it’s gonna stink for several rows.

And if Joella, my Rottweiler Service Dog, if she had gotten upset every time someone was “standoffish” toward her? She’d have crapped a lot. Thank gawd she just gave them her softest look instead and said “Why don’t you like me?” and moved on.

“What is expected of an ESA? Are they not allowed to have accidents? If my 90 yr old grandma has an accident mid flight, is she to be removed?! It’s not to be funny, but if there wasn’t so much grey area for situations like this to occur, this would have never happen. My customer was setup for failure by the airport and deserves an apology and an apology to all the passengers on the plane for having poor regulation and lack of common sense.”

What is expected? They are held to high standards, sir. They are representing not only all the other ESAs that come after them, but all the Service Dogs, too. And you, sir, are setting a poor standard. I expect my Service Dog to act in such a way no one knows she is there. I expect my SD to respond appropriately to stress (hide behind me, right Joella?) and not poop on the floor.

There is no grey area. It is written as a law called the Air Carriers Access Act. Read it. Perhaps your “customer” should, too. I take that back. There are grey areas. They are there on purpose. It is there because no passenger, no ESA, no SD, no situation is identical to the next. You cannot rubber stamp this and expect us all to fit.

RB could be legitimate. If she is, she needs to tell the guy she bought the pig from to shut the F up ’cause he’s an idiot and is not helping her or anyone else one dang bit. He’s enjoying his few minutes in the limelight while she is at home, probably with the curtains closed. Does she deserve the heckling? Did she really get herself a seat not in the bulkhead? I’ve seen photos of the pig in the airport. It’s not *that* big but it would not have been happy in that little space at her feet from Rhode Island to South Carolina. Did she really expect the airlines to take care of her that much? If she did, then she is…well, she needs to plan a little bit better the next time.

Correction: I originally called the law the Air Carriers Act but it is the Air Carriers Access Act. I have corrected all of the references. I should have known it was too easy and too few letters! Elena is much more smarter than me and caught it. – PaulaO

Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) – web version | pdf version
Air Carriers Access Act FAQ (pdf)
ACAA Summary from Disability Travel
Air Consumer Rules – scroll down to “Part 382″
Another article about RB (basically says the same thing but has more photos of the pig)

Samsung Note 4

I recently got the Note 4 to replace my possessed Galaxy S3. I loved my S3 from the beginning. But, yes, it was possessed. For one, it would not connect to the computer with the cable that came with it. Not on my computer. It would on my computer with Lorna’s cable, but not my cable. Then it would connect to Lorna’s computer with it’s cable but not Lorna’s cable. And yes, I knew which cable went to which. So finally we just switched cables and that was that. Then the headset port decided to not work. Most of the time it would, sometimes it wouldn’t. Totally random. It would be playing fine, plug in the headset or speaker, it would go to full volume for two seconds then nothing. The program would pause. Sometimes Google Voice Search would open. Sometimes not. Sometimes Dragon Voice Search would open, sometimes not.

See what I mean by possessed?

Meanwhile I had my tablet with the pen which I used more than I thought I would. I got the pen because I figured I would like to freehand notes and the like. Actually I fell in love with the handwriting-to-text software. I was thinking of getting the Note 3 but Lorna had a co-worker with one and she said it was just too big. Then my sis-in-law got one and I got to play with it. It’s big, yes, but not overly so. When I heard the Note 4 was due out, I decided that was what I wanted.

And I am glad I did.

And yes, it is big. But I wear men’s pants with real pockets so no problems with carrying it. Lorna is going through a phase of wearing women’s pants which has pretend pockets and she can’t even carry her S3 in her front pocket. If I were thinner, I’d get a holster for it and carry it that way, just to be cool. Right now I am carrying it naked. I’m not naked, the phone is.

Let’s start off with what I don’t like. Some of what I don’t like is the different version of the OS, KitKat 4.4.4. My S3 is running 4.4.2.
– I can no longer turn off/on the mobile data with just a tap of an icon in the “drawer”. I actually have no clue where to access it. I’ve not been in a situation yet where I have had to force it to do it so maybe they fixed that problem.
– If the screen is off and you have the phone locked with something other than a simple swipe, a missed call only shows up as a missed call. No other information (other than time) shows. They consider it a “privacy setting” and assume that if you don’t lock your phone, you don’t care who sees it but if you lock it, you do. There’s no way to change that. Really?
– Accessing widgets is a PITA. On my S3, they are with the Apps. On the Note 4, you have to long press an empty spot on the screen and access them via an icon that way. Why??
– The screen is slightly curved on the edges and Samsung neglected to let anyone know this ahead of time. All of the case and screen protector designers who had made things ahead of time were left scrambling to not only recall and offer refunds on things they had sold, but to now redesign their stuff.
– There are two mic holes and depending on who your carrier is depends on which mic hole you use. Verizon folks are SOL when it comes to cases right now. For some stupid dumbass reason, they use a totally different mic hole than everyone else so unless the case has an open bottom, yep, SOL. We have Sprint!

What I do like:
– Very, very sensitive screen. I am tempted to not put a screen protector on it because I love the crisp, clear screen (Zagg’s plastic tends to cloud up).
– What a beautiful screen! Wow! So clear! We went to BestBuy so I could see one and as soon as I turned it on, I knew that was what I would get.
– The pen? It is awesome. It is like a mouse, actually. I can draw, select, move, cut, paste, write, erase. I use the phone for quick notes for the manuscripts as well as just various “don’t for get to do this” kind of notes. And I write them by hand! Amazing! I don’t write much by hand anymore because I tend to grip a pen too hard. And it hurts anyway. But the stylus, I grip lightly and don’t press as hard.
– Probably more to do with the OS than the device itself but the widgets are grouped together. On the S3, if an app had 12 widgets, they were all listed, 6 to a page. But now they are grouped together into kinda like folders that are kinda open. This makes finding things MUCH easier.
– To move icons from one screen to another, you don’t have to hold and skim from page to page. You hold it and little images of the other screens appear below. You can then drag it to the image of the page you want to put it on, it pops up and you drop it there. Done. Great for when you are doing massive re-arranging!

There’s lots more of course. Some good, some bad. There’s some battery issues. This battery gets hot while I never noticed the S3 ever getting warm. But it has a “fast charge” where it goes from dead (1-2%) to 100% in 1hr 37mins (I timed it). It took forever to get it to die, though. A guy who does YouTube reviews and stuff was able to get the iPhone 6+ to bend which then cracked when he tried to straighten it out. The Note 3 did not bend at all, although there was a slight warping to it. The Note 4 bent some but he was able to straighten it out without it breaking. What else? The more I use it, the smaller it gets. Really, it’s not as big as it seems. I mean, yeah, it’s big but for my old eyes? It is just right.

A great resource for most things Android is Android Central. Their forums are quite active and huge. I have learned a lot from the forum for the Galaxy S3 and now the Note 4. Since the wifi only tablets are rather static (I have the Note 10.1), not much happens to them but I go to that forum sometimes just to see if any update is expected. It is still on 4.1.2 and I doubt it will ever get an update.

S3 (left) and Note 4 (right) – the app is Sol Calendar

Widget screen for the Note 4

Widget Screen for the S3 (yes, those are all for one app and yes, there’s more)

How to access the widgets for the Note 4. PITA, IMO.

Writing Apps

So what mobile apps do y’all use to do your writing? Even research? And by mobile I mean not laptop or netbook, but tablet or phone.

I use all Android on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone (soon to be upgraded) and my Samsung Note 10.1 tablet. When I do write away from home and it is not on the laptop, it is on the tablet. With the Note’s pen, I can either do it by hand or use a keyboard (bluetooth or onscreen). I went with the Android because, as a writer, I wanted the ability to easily get to my files and keep backups on a card vs being forced to use a cable or cloud the iWhatever is limited to. My Note has a 32gb card that holds all my WiP files as well as my music, ebooks, and bunches of other stuff. My phone has a 64gb card because it has ALL of the music and a ton of other useless stuff. I keep the tablet more “professional” (less games, for one).

If I like a program, I don’t hesitate to buy the pro or premium version. And if it is free, I like it, but the ads are annoying or I don’t like the permissions, I won’t use it.

The two I use the absolute most are OfficeSuite Pro and AndFTP Pro.

OfficeSuite Pro – word processing. Tracks changes that actually transfers to the desktop. Reads the .odt format (open document, which is what OpenOffice uses) but cannot save in it. It can, however, edit that document then save in .doc which OpenOffice can then handle. Which is why I love OpenOffice.

LectureNotes – I heart this muchly. You can import an image or pdf file then take notes on it or beside it. It is mostly for college students to use this way. You can also create your own drawings, notes, or whatever. There is a fully functioning trial version (has some limits, of course).

Write: Tablet Journal – well organized note taking or journaling kind of app. I use this for world building and idea growing when away from home. I can export them in .txt format when I get home. Easier to manipulate the text than a simple note program yet not overly complicated. The notes can be organized into folders. There is also a version for phones.

WordWeb – I use this on my desktop, too. Dictionary and thesaurus program that can also tap into Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Freakin’ way cool program. On the desktop, I use this a lot.

Aldiko Premium – eBook reader. Reads epub, pdf, and acsm formats. I upload the books (including L’s Nook books) to my tablet via Calibre, a free ebook organization program. I just now found a Calibre Companion app which, somehow through wifi, works with your phone/tablet and Calibre on your desktop to keep your books organized. It won’t read them, but it can help you tag them, mark them as read, etc. I haven’t tried it yet but I will soon!

SimpleMind – a mind mapping / brain storming program. I have it on the desktop, too. I prefer Novamind, however, but that program doesn’t have an app just yet so when I need it while away from home, I can explore the thought process with SimpleMind then transfer it when I get home.

Rory’s Story Cubes – excellent and fun way to get a little spark back into your creativity! Hard to explain so you’ll have to check them out. They existed in “hard format” first and I think I would prefer them that way.

BeyondPod – I was into podcasts for a while but then if I missed a day or week, I got behind and then it is hard to catch up and and and…so I don’t anymore. But I still have the app for if I ever want to get into it again. This was THE best app I tried (and I tried a lot of ‘em) for finding the source, downloading, sorting, and then finding the download to listen to it.

And finally, AndFTP Pro and S3Anywhere Pro. AndFTP is an ftp app that lets me upload/download to/from my backup ftp site. I do regular backups and syncs (yes, I do both) from my desktop and when actively writing, I do daily syncs of the active project. That way, when away from home, I can access the most recent version from my tablet, even if I haven’t put it on there. S3Anywhere allows me to access the cloud service I use (I use DreamHost’s DreamObjects). I don’t often use it but in case something happens to the FTP version, I still have the cloud version. And ya never know! The two apps are made by the same company.

There’s a few more that I tap for reference but these are the faves. OfficeSuite and the ftp one are used the most. I’ve tried a LOT of different apps over the past, what, two years? I really liked Kingsoft, which became WPS Office but it couldn’t handle the odt format. Remembering to save in doc and to upload it was a pain in the arse. It had some other issues as well (clearing the “most recent” list had a tendency to delete the files themselves!) and I was pleased to find another app.

My First Reading!

Paula Offutt (me) and Robin Whitley (somebody else) will be doing a presentation, discussion, and reading at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC October 10th 6:30pm.

The fun part is my book is a science fiction (To Sleep) and Robin’s book is poetry (More Than Knowing) and we are going to connect the two together through the theme of Coming Out and LGBT History. How will we do that? The audience will guide our direction but the idea is how far
LGBT books have come, in particular the characters within them.

For those who cannot make it, an auditory recording will be made and will be available later as a podcast.

O.M.G. I’ve never done this before. What have I agreed to do? I know, I know, it’s for my own good. It sells books. It promotes the next one and the others I’ve written. It promotes LGBT books as a whole. I know. But…I’ve never done this before. What if I do something stupid? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Two At Once

I typically work on two, sometimes three, projects at once. This gives me a chance to walk away from a project and sink into another one for a while. Then when that one needs a break, I can go back to the first one. Yes, one of them usually suffers from it and that’s okay. One is always designated the “major” project and the other then “minor” one although twice now that designation has switched.

Sometimes my brain gets so excited about different ideas, that if I do not write them down, or at least get them started, I lose the momentum altogether. And that’s just sad for everyone. It may not go very far, that idea and the momentum, but it is there for me to pick up later.

Like right now, the two I am working on, one is Butch Girls 2 (I just cannot decide on a real title) has been written about half way in two different plot lines. I finally forced myself to pick one and I am writing it from the beginning to get another BG book out there for my screaming (and stalking) fans. Meanwhile, I dug through my massive archives (I am such a data hoarder) and have started to pump life into a massive manuscript I love but just can’t seem to let go of. I flip between the two projects–which are so very, very different–and soon one of them will win and I’ll feverishly get it finished. The BG book will be the winner because it has to be done first. It just has to be. Stalkers are demanding.

And, to prove to you I really am working, here’s a bit from BG2:

The next one rudely explained how she was looking for someone who had a “firmer grasp on the English language since they were in America, after all, and the short, simple reply clearly demonstrated” that Ellen was “most likely Phillipino or, on second thought, Puerto Rican”. Ellen stopped reading the very long diatribe at that point. She pulled back up the reply she had sent to her and read it aloud, in a Hispanic accent like her friend Toni.

“Nope, doesn’t sound like something she would say at all.”

The third was from the southern lady: “You bring the coffee, I’ll bring the brownies. The dating site has a built-in chat room we can use. How about Wednesday afternoon, 7pm Eastern? Whoever gets there first opens a private chat room with their username with only the other one able to join? I think that’s how it works.”

Ellen glanced at the corner of her monitor. “Dammit, it’s only Monday.” She sent off a quick reply, agreeing to Wednesday. She resisted the urge to complain that Wednesday seemed so far away. She then set several reminders for herself so she wouldn’t forget. “Am I that desperate?”

“I am that desperate.” Nikki set the alarm on her phone and put a big note on her fridge to match the one on her monitor. She and Spam, who was following her everywhere, returned to her office. She went to the dating site to test out how to open a chat room. It wasn’t as difficult as she thought. But staring at the blank chat window was depressing. Then text appeared.

“I see you got it to work.”

Announcement

To Dream, Book Two of the Soliloquy, will not be released until October 2015. Yes, this is nearly a year after its original release date, but it is for a good reason.

Regal Crest and I want to put out the best book we can. And while To Dream is a damn good book as it is, there’s a few things in it that need some more rewriting and editing. No, I am not cat licking the novel and not letting go of it, honest. To Dream is like The Two Towers, an in-between book with lots of growth, lots of directions, but not much actually happening except growing tension. It sets up the next two books, mostly. And that is hard to do and make it worth the reader’s time. It is VERY character driven, one character with the others in very strong, supportive roles.

For me, it was a hard decision to make. But then we missed an important deadline (you would not believe the angst Real Life has thrown Heather and me!). The decision had to be made and we made it and it is done.