Friday, September 20, 2013

Re-Capturing A Glow

Having the old laptop come back to life on my desk made me think of the files that were on it. I had a look around them, and with a stomach-clenching start, realized that my six novels were NOT there. The next four were, in various states of unedited/unfinished-ness, but I have them backed up on the work laptop and a thumb drive already. With horror I went to the desktop machine, that perverse Windows 7 HP lemon ... oh, no, that's where the completed novels were? What had I been thinking?

When I transferred those files from my first (and now dead and gone to recycle bin) laptop, I hadn't known that the desktop was a lemon, that's what I had been thinking. Well, what the hell, I thought, I could work with those files on the Big Screen -- maybe that would help me catch typos!

I knew that Character Assassin needed "justified" print (CA was actually my first novel in print) so I thought I'd just do that and see if I still remembered how ...

And thus began the next few hours of sweat and twitchiness: the Word program I had installed on the desktop would not allow me to use "Thai Distributed Justify," which had worked so nicely with the other books. Again and again I typed those three words into Word's "Help" program, Google Search, back to Word, calling up Dreamer and seeing "Thai Distributed Justify" in its formatting, unable to find it for CA ... OMG, don't tell me that Windows 7 won't work with my old 2002 Word program!

I turned off the Big Screen and turned on my Windows Vista laptop. Yes, you can access Thai Distributed there. I turned Vista off and turned on Windows 7 laptop. Sweating bullets of relief, I found Thai Distributed there, too. Why the hell wasn't it on Big Screen -- all my machines had the same Word 2002 disk uploaded -- and what the hell might have happened to my files while they were being mauled by Lemon Big Screen?

There were two thumb drives in the desk drawer, and neither one of them had my novels on them.  With a steadily droning "Eeeeeeeeee" of horror running through my head, I carefully loaded the novels from Big Screen onto the thumb drive with palsied hands, checking each one to make sure that Page One and The End were on each. Lamaze breathing exercises and glugged ice water helped me keep from falling into a panic attack.

Did you know that it's okay to mention "Stress Sweat" nowadays? Yes, it is, I heard it on a television commercial just the other night. The ad noted that "Stress Sweat" is really smelly, different than "Exercise Sweat" -- duh! After I made sure that every sentence of my novels had successfully loaded onto Windows 7 Laptop, I re-formatted Out With the Trash to Thai Distributed justification. It looks sharp.

And then I took a shower because I stunk.

But you know what? Making sure that my novel files had lifeboats gave me some time to spend with them, and I liked what I saw. I think I'm ready now to start working with them again, and get Out With the Trash into circulation.

Fan that little spark, and make Sand a writer again, not simply an editor.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Caught Up in a Whirlwind

Thousands upon thousands of fragments spiral around you, catching the light on their shiny-sides, contrasting with the deep blue sky with their golden harvest sides, sparkling, flying, sailing, dazzling, twenty feet wide, seventy feet high ...

We picked Lillian up at her rural charter school and for a change of habit, took Division D road to take us home. On the way, we saw a farmer on a big tractor tilling his field, which had recently held rows of corn. The chaff of his corn-cutting mixed with the dirt, and the breeze conspired with the  fragments to produce a dust-devil, dancing and swirling only about 50 feet away from the road. We stopped the car (there was no traffic behind us) and watched it glittering.

With amazement, we held our breaths as the dust-devil headed toward us, carrying the shreds of cornstalk leaves; with awe we looked around us and up through the Vibe's moon-roof to see the dust-devil move over the car in its mini-tornado, sparks of light and dark and tan weaving through the air above and around us. Within minutes, it had jumped a levee and went to play among the trees along the river.

In 59 years of life, I have never seen anything like that. Inside a dust-devil, who could have thought of such an event. O God, it was so beautiful, thank You for such a blessing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ghost in the Machine

So this morning, I was standing at my work table in the studio, looking at the funnies and the BBC and the weather, using my laptop. On the right end of the table, my old laptop sat, closed up, unplugged, turned off.

Bernie's been telling me for over a year now that I have to get over my sentimentality and ditch the old laptop; an IMPORTANT WINDOWS UPDATE destroyed its optical drive (not lying, it really did, my computer and many many other people's computers) and made it a bit unstable at times. Plus the power cord connection is a bit loose and the battery no longer holds a charge.

But I have a lot of photos still on it, and the keyboard action is so comfortable and classy ... also, it runs with Vista OS and that means my old scanner still works with it, which my newer Windows 7 machines will not allow.

Anyway, this morning, as I was looking at the weather, I heard an odd yet familiar sound. At the end of the table, untouched by me or anything else, the old laptop turned itself on. I'm not shitting you, it did. Even with a dead battery, it turned itself on.

I opened it, and saw the background of my desktop, and then with a barely audible little yip, the screen went dead. Of course it did. The battery has no juice.

I plugged its power cord into the side, pressed the "Power" button, and fired it up. I used it all morning without problem, and now the machine display says that I have a fully charged battery.

Did my machine, upon whom I have written so many words, manipulated so many images, miss me that much? Indeed, I am writing this on it right now.

Say "Hello," Machine.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mortality and Monitors

A week ago last Thursday, I had an interesting day. While at the supermarket, I walked past a woman wearing a particularly vile perfume. Even though I never got within 15 feet of her (Bernie hustled me in the opposite direction as soon as he caught the first whiff), my eyes began to burn and tears welled up, my nasal passages and lungs burned, and I began to cough. Twenty minutes later, I felt dizzy and sick, and couldn't draw a full breath.

By mid-afternoon, I still couldn't eat or drink anything; my stomach felt tight and bloated. I felt like I was running out of air, but couldn't draw a deep breath. Couldn't. I seriously began to wonder if my time on Earth was up.

Fortunately, by nightfall, I was able to take full breaths again, and I am alive to tell about it. Being alive and not dying made me think about things I've been putting off, things I've been Not Doing Because They Are Silly.

One of the things I've been Not Doing is getting a TV for our bedroom. Why would we need a TV in the bedroom? Oh, maybe because we hog the living room TV watching Food Network most evenings, or DVDs that only Bernie and I watch; and sometimes I just don't want to watch Lillian's choice of cartoons. Another of the Not Doing things is replacing my desktop computer monitor. My little Sony has been a workhorse since 2003, and it still works, but truly, technology has made some advancements since then.

So since I actually had the money stashed away in my Other Shore account, why not use it before some random perfume-reeking cow does me in? On Saturday I killed two Things with one purchase. For the living room, I bought a monster 50" TV so that we can see every high-definition booger and crumb on our favorite football players, and put the 37" TV on my desk in the bedroom. We get cable back there, and a high-def TV isn't awful to be close to.

Oh, my goodness, Photoshop has taken on a whole new level of fun-ness. And you would be surprised how very quickly one can get used to having a monitor that size.

And here I am, alive, and enjoying the Silly Thing.