Irons in the Writing Fire

I’m not sure how many other writers do this, but I typically work on more than one project at a time. I tend to pound out a lot of words then pause to consider it. See, I don’t plan or do an outline. I start a project because I have an idea, a “what if…”, or just a title. Usually I know the ending, sometimes I don’t. Other than that, the plot for the book just flows. And sometimes that flow takes my characters to places or situations I didn’t expect. And I need to back up and think about it. The more I write, the less I discover it was the WRONG direction. Either I’m becoming a better writer (and trust me, some of my early stuff truly stinks) or I’m getting better at figuring out how to get out of the corner I painted my novel into.

What I do while I think is either play games on my PC (my current obsession is Homeworld Remastered) or I go to another project. Sometimes that thinking takes a while and even if I come up with a solution, the path to getting there is not clear so I gotta think some more. And as some friends will agree so quickly they spit, I tend to think too much and not just freakin’ do.

So what irons are in my writing fire? Glad you asked.

Perchance – Book Three of The Soliloquy series. I’m well over half done (64,048 words) with this but the corner I just painted poor Karen into is itty bitty small. I’m not sure if I will keep what happened or delete and try again. I’m leaning toward the latter.

The time it took from when first multi-cell organism was formed from the ooze until man killed another man was but a blink in the eye of the cosmic consciousness. That moment of same species violence revealed the truth of what was to come. The magnificent art on the caves and the formation of spoken words and music: all of them so emotional. They could not compete to the violence man was capable of. The violence man carried out over the ages. The violence man carried out now.

The weapons sweep had brought about the fall of…something. I’m no philosopher. I just know Humans will never be the same again. They’d held this thought, brought on by generations of movies showing how easily humanity could bring down alien space ships, that they could do the same thing in real life. Not so. (snipped)

But now the only weapons left were those being handed out to police and select military groups. Keyed to the user’s DNA, the weapon could not be used by anyone else. Oh, sure, there were some bows and arrows somewhere. Molotov cocktails were all the rage with the rioters but skill to make one, fuel to fill it, and aim to make it go where one wanted were three things seemingly in short supply in the same location at the same time.

Elements – (working title) My foray into magic. It started as a “What if…” and went from there. I once said I would never write magic books but this one demands to be set free. Will it ever get finished? Let’s just say it needs some serious editing and rewriting and filling in spaces (it gets from A to W in, like, three pages).

Alicia stood in the {Something} Archives, with a book open before her. She questioned not just her occupation, but everything about it and her life and her world. She bent her neck again, slowly, to gaze down at the page. To see if maybe she had read the words wrong. She’d already read them three times but maybe…

“The four primary elements are strong, mighty guardians of the world. The two intrinsic elements are stronger and mightier and do not interfere with the primary elements’ duties. The six are combined into two when the Mother starts to awaken. The result will either full awaken or assist the Mother in returning to sleep. It will depend upon the two who hold the six.”

Simple Sarah – Book One of the Something Series – Poor, poor Sarah. I started writing this book in 2004. Finished it in just a few months. And then it has been cat licked to death ever since. I swear upon my mother’s newly dug grave that I will finish that damn thing this year or archive it. Okay, by the end of 2019 because I really need to get Perchance out this year or my publisher may give up on me. Sorry Mom.

The storm had started just before dusk and had increased in intensity as night deepened. Between the thunder and the pounding rain, Sarah Durnhold did not get much sleep in her attic bedroom. She finally gave up and went downstairs to the kitchen. Restarting the stove was easy enough as her father always banked it to perfection. A few little bits of old cloth, some kindling, and soon she was able to add several quartered pieces of wood. She was filling the kettle when she heard movement upstairs.

“Might as well fill it enough for three,” came her mother’s voice.

Sarah got down two more mugs from their hooks and the basket of teas from the shelf. Her father was not much of a tea drinker but Sarah found the packet of “untainted” tea that he preferred. He did not understand the need to take perfectly good tea leaves and ruin them by adding fruit or the like, just to add flavor, when the flavor was just fine left alone, thank you very much.

The Relic – working title. (24,354) Ah, I’m loving this book. It’s been a slow, delicious burn in my mind and releasing it is fun. It has a lot of layers though, but I’m working hard to keep it a single novel and not another damn series.

Many times the relic, and those just like it, had been moved across the world. From the sharp peaks of the Himalayas, to the hot sands of Africa, to the moors of Scotland, to the mountains of what would eventually be known as North Carolina. The stewards had been charged with keeping the relic safe. At all costs. Many called it a burden but a necessary one. Few called it what it was: a privilege.

The Norse had been far to the north. Spaniards had not yet arrived to the New World. The caretakers of the relic were of mixed ethnicity, gathered from the places the relic had rested, and intrigued the Cherokee, Catawba, and other native tribes in the area. Years later when the Cherokee were forced to leave, the stewards used some of the gifts granted to them and helped hide not only themselves and the relic, but also to hide many of their Cherokee friends. They did it again during the Civil War. By then the world had grown and it would be difficult to hide and explain the relic if it were to be moved. Instead, it was relocated just to the north. The sarcophagus was placed in a natural cave that had been expanded. Wards were set. And the stewards settled down.

As Advertised – one of the Butch Girl books. Yeah, I know. Lesbian readers love love love their romance books. But I dislike writing them. Well, dislike isn’t the right word. Remember above when I told you that I often had to step back from a book to digest or think something through? Well imagine writing about magic or feathered aliens or whatever and then trying to slip into the relative simple angst, conflict, and lives of normal humans. It doesn’t work for me. However, I keep trying and As Advertised is indeed progressing. It started back in 2004 as well and was actually the first BG book I started. But BGCFA was finished first and the rest is herstory. I have several other Butch Girl books in progress, too.

Nikki Rogers pushed off with her foot so the stars above her swayed and blurred. The beers from the gathering and the tequila shared with Harri later, had her head buzzing. She closed her eyes against the moving universe above her to wait out the swing’s momentum. But that just turned her thoughts inward and reminded her of Kelly and Grace’s gathering. Nikki was over the moon thrilled for her friends. But it also made her realize how empty her life had become. She had become financially comfortable, had a wonderful, renovated home, and plenty of land to maintain privacy. Yet, there was no special someone to share it all with. Except Spam, of course, but in matters such as these, he didn’t count as special.

She heard muffled breathing and felt the elephant land on her chest. She scrunched up her face for what she knew was coming next.

Resources for Writers

I mentioned in the last post that I use WordWeb for my thesaurus. I like it for its simplicity and for the ability to access other sources. I have found over the years that there are good resources and there are not so good ones.

Some may not like Wikipedia due to its open edit vulnerability. And I say if you are going to depend on one resource for your research, then you are doing it wrong. Wikipedia is a vast resource and the ideal place to start. Their links at the bottom (see also, references, further reading, and/or external links), are the next step. Wikipedia is just one part of a wonderful organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. From images to quotes to even a species directory, Wikimedia Foundation provides a vast resource of information to get lost in.

Wiktionary is one part of the Wikimedia Foundation that I use almost as much as Wikipedia. I especially like it for its etymology.

Wolfram|Alpha is another huge network of resources. For example, their unit conversion section is amazing. You can even compute what size knitting needles you need!

The Phrontistery is an obscure word source. I blink a lot whenever I visit there. I use it to spark my brain into thinking deeper than it has been. Or to find a word that fits better. Like the section for Carriages and Carts.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing, part of the Capital Community College Foundation in Hartford, Connecticut. It is another huge resource that covers a wide spectrum. It is a wonderful place to get a refresher course on just what the heck is the object and predicate and whatever? Just be aware there are some website weirdness (sudden highlighting of sentences if your cursor goes over them, everything going bold as you scroll down, etc).

Similar to them would be Purdue University’s OWL (online writing lab). It is geared a lot toward students (how to write an essay, put together a bibliography, etc) but they do have a Workplace Writers section that deals with correspondence formats, resumes, etc although there’s still a plethora of information we can use.

The Urban Dictionary is…interesting. And can be…enlightening? I don’t use it often. I list it here because it is at least good for wondering just what the hell kids are saying these days. It is NOT Suitable for Work! OMG no.

Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com are two linked sites that are another so-so source. While not community driven (as in open editing), they are advertising driven which makes for crowded webpages. Some users have noted errors with the overly simplistic answers.

Want to know medieval names and stuff? The Academy of Saint Gabriel. They have names, heraldry (weapons, banners, etc), and information on how to use both.

Want to know what occupations medieval folks had? This guy knows.

Want to know what food medieval people ate? Here’s not only information on it, but recipes! Also check out their Arts and Sciences of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

And of course there’s the Society for Creative Anachronism and their vast resources.

Oh! And the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts! Their “How much does historical swords weigh” article is enlightening.

And good ol’ Google. Seriously. Google searches are a great place to start. Just be sure to use the best search terms. Another article on how to increase your Google-fu.

The list goes on. My bookmarks file is huge and the one for Writer Stuff is a big chunk of it. The idea here is to not rely on one resource for information you are going to put into your book. Just don’t do it. Some of the research you will do will never be included in the book but will make you feel comfortable enough to help your characters discuss the topics.

Writing Software and Stuff

If you read the previous post, you’ll know I just switched from OpenOffice to LibreOffice. Still loving it! And I was reminded I’d not done a “software I use” post in a while. So here goes.

Hardware:
– a built computer running Win 10. It is dying so I’m in the process of saving up for a replacement. Hopefully it will survive until then!
– a 17″ HP laptop. I use this when I travel or go out to write. It is running Win 10 as well.
– I don’t have a tablet anymore since Lorna broke my Note 10.1. I had been trying to accidentally kill it so I can get a new one. Should have saved myself time by just letting L use it! It won’t charge anymore. The tablet I would love to replace it with costs almost as much as the PC I want to build, though, so yeah, I’ll wait.
– keyboard is a Kinesis Freestyle Blue. It is a true split keyboard. I used a Kinesis Freestyle for a long time and love it. Then the N key stopped working. Sigh. This one is a Bluetooth which I like since it is one less cord. Plus I can easily toss it in the bag and go. It can connect to 3 devices (one at a time of course) so I have it hooked to my PC, laptop, and did it have it with the tablet but I may have re-worked it to be on the phone.
Logitech M570 trackball. You can get it from BestBuy for half the cost on the Logitech site, though. They have a new trackball out I’m interested in if this one dies. Trackballs are hard to find and Logitech and Kensington are the only two still making them. And the Kensington one is stupid.
Samsung Note 8 phone. I like using a stylus and I like a big screen. Sure I can get a rubber tipped stylus anywhere but where do I keep it? I’m not happy that the battery is not removable.

Ergonomics is a top priority with me which is why I am so picky about what sits on my desk or goes in my bag. Yeah, I have to pay more but it is worth it.

Software:
LibreOffice is my word processing as well as spreadsheet software. Love. It. (opensource/free/donations/community driven)
SyncBack Pro – I use it to sync/backup/mirror stuff from my PC to my DreamObjects cloud service, my laptop, L’s desktop, and a memory key. There is a free version. I’ve used this for, wow, a long time. They have an app to sync with a phone: SyncBack Touch. I like using it to keep my WiP folder updated to my Note 8. (free/paid)
CyberDuck – this is what I use to access DreamObjects cloud. I tried their MountainDuck but since it is dependent on the speed of your computer and uses Windows’ file system thing, it was too slow for me. Maybe with the next PC! (opensource/free/donate)
FileZilla – this is what I use as an FTP client. And another software I’ve used forever. I was trying out MountainDuck because it can do both cloud services and FTP. Actually, CyberDuck can do FTP, too, but I like the UI of FileZilla more. Anyway, using Filezilla, I can upload to a folder on my website where it is easily accessible. (opensource/free/community driven)
Clementine – okay, so this one isn’t really writing related. But I use it a lot as I write. It is a music player so I can use my headset vs playing over my phone. This keeps me “in the zone”. It can also stream music from various services but I don’t use any. It has an app (Android only) I can use to skip songs or change the playlist accessing it on my screen. (opensource/free/community drive)
WordWeb – Good golly, I love this program! Thesaurus, dictionary, resources all rolled into one. Love. It. Free version available. (free/paid)
TeamViewer – I used to use Ammyy to do remote access of my PC or laptop but it seems to be lacking in support and updating. So I made the switch to TeamViewer. It is free for personal use. It uses passwords although you can set it so X computer can always connect to the Y one. I used it a lot while I was up Nawth so I could access files and download email on my desktop. I really like it. (free/paid)
Fl.ux – This is a program I forget I am using. Until I turn it off. Wow, what a difference! It changes the color of the screen slightly to adjust to the time of day. It is great for my eyes at night since I am such a night owl. It has app versions but for Android, it requires root. (free/donations)
SimpleMind Pro – I am not using this as much as I used to. It is a mind mapping / brain storming software. I like it a lot though and when I use it, I ask “Why don’t I do this more???”

I reckon that’s all for the PC. I use a lot more programs, of course, but I am just listing those for writing or while writing. As you can tell, I am a fan of opensource. I donate a LOT to those I like and participate if/when I can.

Here’s some other, non-writing related programs I recommend:
Everything – search software (free/donate)
VLC – video player (free/donate)
Calibre – ebook organizer and upload-to-devices-er (free/donations)
Irfanview – image software (love this!) (free/donate)

Okay, enough of that. What do I use on my phone for writing? I have found I don’t like editing on my phone or tablet so most of it is for reference or reading over a draft or whatever. The phone is useless for actual writing. I use it for note taking while away from my desk. I did use the tablet for writing, though.

Android Apps:
(not going to provide links since it all goes to the Play Store anyway. Look ’em up yerse’f)
WordWeb – same as above
Squid – I’ve used a lot of stylus handwriting note taking apps over the years. And I love Squid. Love the name, too! The main thing is I can set it to where it ignores finger touching except for dragging down the page (two fingers I think). You can organize into notebooks, have multiple pages or just one looooong page.
OfficeSuite – this views pdf, doc, and txt files. Meh, it’s okay.
LibreOffice Viewer – just started using this so not sure about it yet. It is a better viewer than it is editor but it does have that capability.
AndrOpenOffice – bleh. It tries to emulate the PC screen of OpenOffice onto a phone or tablet. It twitches a lot.
Chambers Dictionary and Thesaurus – expensive, huge, but worth it.
Keep – I use this for easy to get to notes that I want to type. Or make real fast.
SimpleMind – app version of SimpleMind PC
SyncBack Touch – see SyncBack Pro above
AirDroid – meh, it’s okay. If I used it for what it was really for, I’d be constantly distracted. It is a cool app, though. I use it to transfer files semi-clickly. Just one or two files like images or whatever.

I reckon that’s it. No apologies to Mac or iOS users for having nothin’ for you. (grin)

OpenOffice vs LibreOffice

Long time no post! Life has been…intense.

Anyway, I was doing something with OpenOffice, wanted to see if an extension would help, but the extension page wouldn’t load. And other information pages were showing years old stuff. Then I remembered someone on Facebook had said something about it being bought out or something. So I went investigating. And about cried. Apache OpenOffice was officially discontinued in 2011.

OpenOffice has gone by a lot of names and transitions. It’s a good example of open source, licensing, proprietary, forking, and business politics. Kinda like a geek soap opera. Well, here, check out this image.

At any rate, OpenOffice is, essentially, dead. Which is sad, because it had a HUGE amount of users. Huge. And was beginning to make MS Office sweat.

Which brings me to a replacement for those of us who hate MS Office (the bulk, the embedding, the cost, the crap, the seemingly constant file extension changes, and more!) and those of us who are uncomfortable using OpenOffice with no security updates forthcoming. Enter LibreOffice (LO). LO has its own history (see the link to the image above) and could be (and should be) considered a better version of OpenOffice. LO is maintained by The Document Foundation (TDF) and is flourishing. Most of its programmers (and others) are from when Oracle donated OO to Apache Software. They didn’t like the direction it was going and left, got the source code (it’s all about the licensing when it comes to alleged open source), and made their own playground. Basically. Which means if you switch from OO to LO, there’s not going to be much of a learning curve since they are essentially the same. There’s subtle differences.

I’ve been using LO for a while now (few weeks I guess) and am liking it. First off, I like the landing page. Because of it, I was able to remove a line of shortcuts from my desktop. I kept a shortcut for each manuscript I was actively working on so I could choose whichever one I felt like working on that day. But I can now open LO and see a pictorial representation of my recent documents. I can clear the list or just remove individual ones by clicking an X.


Second, I didn’t like the standard icon set that appeared on LibreOffice. The standard OpenOffice icons are cleaner. I had to dig around and find the themes (something I never used in OO). I am a creature of habit and didn’t like pausing so long to figure out where the italic icon was. Ya know? (in image below, my OO toolbar, the default LO, and the one I chose)



I never used the QuickStarter for OpenOffice because I’ve never had enough PC memory to handle it. LibreOffice takes a little longer to load a document but not so much I worry it has hung itself. I turned the QuickStarter on for both and checked the memory use. LibreOffice uses a lot more memory, even without the QuickStarter running. BUT, I also have more of it installed, as you can tell by the fourth image below.

Both programs open with similar sized documents (odt format).

Both programs with just the QuickStarter going.

Both programs with similar sized documents and the QuickStarter going.

Options under the QuickStarter of both

There aren’t as many extensions for LibreOffice. But the good thing is it doesn’t need them. For example, in OpenOffice I had to put in a footer with the word count field, go to Tools>Word Count, or use an extension. LibreOffice has this standard AND shows the character count. And I heart it muchly. It’s the little things that make or break a relationship. I’m still exploring the extensions and will do another post about them later.

Things are hard to find on the LibreOffice website. Like, when I first starting using it, I tried to use the Help. It wasn’t there and it sent me online, telling me I needed to download it. But it didn’t tell me where it was. And I couldn’t find it. I finally got frustrated with that and just started digging (it is kinda hidden in the box where you download it and is called “offline help”). It is a hard to navigate site. The Document Foundation (LO’s handler) does not offer support. You have to either pay for it or go to the extremely simplistic “forum”.

I had an issue in the beginning that I had to go to the forum for help. I couldn’t use custom dictionaries. But I came up with the answer myself.

There’s two things about LO that has me very happy. When you save a file, it saves a backup. I could never get OpenOffice to do it. Yes, that’s double the data but I can clean that folder out every once in a while, getting rid of saves I don’t need. The other thing it does is save to or open from a remote server. Meaning FTP/SSH, WebDAV, Windows Share, Google Drive, and/or a CMIS server. I love that. I can do a quick upload to my ftp site and access it from my phone or laptop. Now, if only it could save to other cloud services, too.

LibreOffice backup

Remote File capabilities

If you are using OpenOffice, consider switching to LibreOffice. If you are using MS Office, consider switching to LibreOffice.

Linkages:
StarOffice Wikipedia article
OpenOffice Wikipedia article
LibreOffice Wikipedia article
The Document Foundation Wikipedia article
LibreOffice
Ask.LibreOffice (the help forum)

Life Goes On After Lessons Learned

Sometimes, life bites us in the arse and we turn around, surprised and, perhaps, more than just a little knocked off our not-so-proverbial feet.

I prepared. I tried to do everything right. And yet, so many things went wrong.

While driving up Nawth to attend my nephew’s high school graduation, I had an accident. Traffic was heavy but going at a fast speed. There had been the usual “Why are we suddenly going 50mph??” places so, like a good driver, I kept distance between me and the car in front of me. Near Woodstock, VA at mile marker 285.5 on I-81 at about 6pm, the car in front of me slammed on their brakes. I knew they did because the back of their car was hopping and fish-tailing. I put on my brakes and went to the right, into the right hand lane, so that if I didn’t stop in time, I would go beyond them. I didn’t want to go to the left, into the median, because of gravel and grass not helping me to stop. But my rear-wheel drive truck went into a slide. The back of the truck, an ’03 Chevy S10 Crew cab, slid to the left into the grassy median. When it did, I could not correct the slide. I knew, in that brief moment, that I was going to crash. I knew.

According to witnesses, the truck slid a few feet on the two driver’s side wheels, lay on that side, continued to skid, then rolled onto its top. I do not know if it rolled again or just landed on its top. I hit no one else. No debris hit anyone else.

During the slide, my left elbow hit the highway and I felt it get road rash. Then the next thing I know, the visor is in my face. It takes a few seconds for me to gather my thoughts. I didn’t realize I was upside down until they (the bystanders who stopped) reached in to unbuckle my seat belt.

Before I would let them do that, though, I was saying over and over, “Where’s Quinn? Where’s my dog?” Someone removed Quinn (who never made a sound) and then someone unbuckled me. I assumed my left arm was hamburger or at least broken so I tucked it under me and rolled out of what was left of my truck. Someone comes back and says they need the leash. I say backseat. They reach in and I see someone take the Flexi leash. Someone else is saying don’t move her further (meaning me). My neck is resting on some guy’s foot. He is shaking. Just as the paramedics get there, someone comes up and says “Don’t panic, but your puppy ran off”. Yeah, don’t panic. I try to get up but so many hands held me down. And, really, I don’t think I could have gotten up. I am told later that only my shoulders and head were out of the truck and I was twisted because of the way I rolled out of it.

The paramedics had to get creative. They needed to brace my neck and back yet because of my position, they couldn’t get a collar on me. So, bless their hearts, they used towels. And, really, I couldn’t move once it was all on. Once they got that on, they then concentrated on getting me on a back board and getting me out of the truck. (meanwhile, one of the tires was leaking and screaming that high pitched sound) All the time they are doing this, I am saying “I can’t go, I need to get my dog.” The paramedics assured me that I couldn’t do anything, that the trooper would look, that others were already looking. Against my wishes (but for my own good), I was extracted and taken to the hospital.

My time at the hospital is kind of blurry and not very pleasant. But what I remember is this: my painstakingly accurate spreadsheet of my medications on my phone was worthless. They needed something fast. And trying to resize the spreadsheet constantly wasn’t working. They wanted me to tell them my allergies. I couldn’t remember them all. A print out in my wallet case (which the trooper brought later) did not include my allergies.

I had the ICE app on my phone that listed medications and allergies. Did I think of it? No. Did they ask if I had one? No. I have a MedicAlert bracelet (several actually) and a necklace. Where were they? In my bag. By the time I thought of it, they no longer thought it necessary to know all of my history.

My arm is not broken and was barely bleeding. I was offered no ice pack. At one point, I was on the back board still, waiting for results of something, and I am bawling. My phone is across the room. I have no button to call a nurse. I called out about 4 times before someone heard me. It was not a busy night. She gave me my phone and left. I feel so fucking alone. My Quinn is missing. Lorna is 6 hrs away. Kevin (my brother) and his wife are still several hours away. I punish myself by refusing all medications but ibuprofen. So they don’t take me seriously, thinking I am not in that much pain. I am discharged at midnight with a prescription of ibuprofen. No diagnosis, not warnings or things to look out for. One of the papers talks about nightmares. Another talks about how to care for a bone contusion. At least I knew then was was up with my arm.

Meanwhile, Lorna had figured out Facebook and had posted about what had happened and that Quinn was missing. And Quinn pert near went viral by morning. I started getting calls from people asking where should they start looking. And I’m like, “Mile marker 285.5 but who are you?” Two women met us at one of the “cross overs” (those roads that connect the two sides of the highway) and we discussed options. We gave them Quinn’s blanket, food bowl, and some food. They would set up a place for her to return to. The DOT Driver Assist guy stopped at one point to ask what we were looking for. He took notes. The county Animal Control guy met with us and sent us to a road under the highway that had a creek running nearby, thinking she wanted to get out of the heat and went to water. The Shenandoah County dispatch person was patient through all of my calls to her. My GP Nicole Ogg was friends with a GP in Woodstock. That friend happened to have another friend and patient who was the head of the County Shelter. People who knew people who knew other people.

We all kept looking but Kevin (my brother) and his wife Colleen had to get home. And I was really messed up. My arm was huge, my back was screaming, my head was pounding, so many parts of me hurt. We made the decision to head to NJ (it was only 4hrs away). We stopped at the accident site and called for Quinn over and over, just like we had been all morning. All of us frustrated we had to leave. It started pouring rain. Absolutely pouring. We saw the two ladies setting up the tarp over Quinn’s blanket and food at 285.4. We saw a DOT truck stopped just up the road but they were doing shoulder work and we thought nothing of it.

Just up the highway from Woodstock is Winchester. As we neared the exit, Kevin was trying to figure out how we could stay longer and keep looking yet still get Colleen and him their medications (they left home with nothing). Just as we passed it, my phone rang. It was the DOT Driver Assist guy. He had Quinn. He was at mile marker 285.8. He had seen us across the road but lost us in the heavy rain. He didn’t want to leave to go get us, afraid we’d lose her again. He thought she was a bear cub until he got closer.

We turned around and raced back but the heavy rain kept us from driving too crazy. I got another call. The State Trooper was there and they were trying to at least keep her in place until I got there. She was scared and fear biting. I got another call. She was in the Trooper’s car. I cannot tell you how I felt. I just can’t. I mean, I didn’t think we would find her that day. No one did. She was a puppy. Frightened, lost on a four lane highway when she had grown up on a one-lane road. She was lost in the median but at some point that morning, had crossed to the northbound side. We stopped to get her blanket, hoping it would calm her. It was soaked. Kevin wrung it out, grabbed her bowl, and we hurried.

And there she was. On a leash held by the state trooper. My girl. She was soaking wet, covered in green balls and other seed heads. I pulled off five ticks on our way to NJ. Kevin thanked both men many times since all I was seeing was my girl.

So what could I have done differently?

The wreck itself. Rear-wheel drive trucks are stupid. All that power on an empty box when it should be up front. Once the rear wheels hit the grass median, it was over. So not much I could have done there. I had too many loose things in the truck. My laptop bag was open. The case of water bottles was on the front seat, open. Quinn’s toys. Her bag. All of that loose in a sliding, rolling vehicle equals a mess. Where was my wallet? The one with the information they needed? Not in my pocket. Not in my bag. But in the toss bin thing in the console of the truck. Next time I travel, more things will be tied down and better contained.

Losing Quinn. I had them take her out first. She had on a collar and a harness and was attached to a tether hooking her to the seat belt. She slammed into the back of my seat, I do remember that. The harness is not for seat belt use, but more for walking and anti-driver distraction. Meaning keeping the dog out of the driver’s way. Quinn was kept within the vehicle. All she had (besides ticks) was an eye injury that our vet believes happened during the accident and not later. A seat belt harness would have kept her from hitting my seat and perhaps kept her from injuring her eye. Although there were a lot of things being tossed around and any of them could have hit her. As for her getting lost, that was beyond my control. We thought she was dragging the flexi leash but we found it in the truck later. When she was found, she was not wearing her harness but my guess is she chewed it off. I don’t hold any grudge toward the person who had hold of her. She’s stronger than she looks.

My medical information. Oy, I cannot believe all my planning and it doesn’t work. For now I will be wearing the MedicAlert necklace or bracelet at all times. And I will ensure their information is up-to-date. And I will remember I have the ICE app. Duh.

Lessons learned. Life goes on. Bumps and bruises heal. The truck can be replaced. Quinn and I cannot. Life goes on.

How to Get Your Nook Books

We don’t do Kindle. Never have. Never will. Instead we get epub formats since they are quite universal. Nearly any ereader can view them with little to no converting. Which is why I dislike Kindle. And why I disliked Lorna’s Nook. When Barnes and Noble (B&N) dropped the Nook, we kept it alive for as long as possible. I even spent big bucks on chargers and cords since both were proprietary. Then it started dying and I couldn’t fix it. I got her a tablet, used Calibre to upload all her books, and she was happy. Then B&N got rid of the “download” button on their website. The only way to get your books was through a Nook or a Nook app.

I by-passed that by using Nook Study. It was designed for students to download textbooks and for years, it has worked. She bought her books, I used it to download them, then used Calibre to upload them to her tablet. Done.

Except today when she bought a book, Nook Study wouldn’t work. It tried to download and said they were “experiencing errors, try later” or something like that. Right. I knew the Nook Study was on the way out anyway because I tried to install it on her computer last year and it wouldn’t. They’d discovered the loop hole. And now they have tightened the noose.

Fine.

Lorna got the Nook app on her Android tablet and it automatically downloaded the book. It also downloaded a book I had bought several months ago that was not on her tablet. I went to the “Library” and long pressed her new book (when in doubt on an Android device, long press). Ta freakin’ da. It let me move it to the SD card. I located it on the SD card and “shared” it via email to my desktop. I then put it through Calibre (which removes the DRM) and uploaded it to her tablet. Now she can read it in the app of HER choice, not theirs.

Take that, B&N idiots.

In the Nook app, go to the Library.
Long press the book’s cover. Select “Move to SD card”

A: use the My Files and go to the SD Card, then Android, then Data.

1: Scroll down to find com.nook.app.
2: Open Files then Download.
3: Long press the book you want to send.
4: Tap Share.

Once you know where the book is, you can also send it to your desktop via whatever file sharing method you usually use. AirDroid, usb, or taking the card out and putting it into your computer.

To make Nook epubs viewable in a reading app other than their own (bastids), you’ll need Calibre and the plugin to decrypt it. The user manual is quite extensive but all information on how to remove the encryption is left up to the plugins. Apprentice Alf has the one you need and this post has the instructions for Calibre.

If you have any questions, let me know.

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