Dear Fairy Deityparent…

imageI am writing to report that my Tauntaun still hasn’t arrived. How many times do I have to send you an effing change of address?

Never mind. It’s summer now and the thing would fry. Plus the shedding and the smell. It was a dumb idea anyway. Oh, don’t pretend like you knew that. This wasn’t the upshot of some cunning plan. You are grievously at fault, and are gonna have to make it up to me.

Wish one: I would like some genius history lecturer to take up podcasting, for starters, preferably in thirty to forty-five minute segments. I would further like for them to psychically cherry-pick all the topics that interest me while leaving out, for example… actually, I’m probably interested in any historical era if the speaker’s smart, savvy and deeply into it. See? I’m not impossible to please.

Wish Two: I would also like for someone to code an app, dammit, that counts up my various social network followships and presents the numbers in pretty charts, and maybe tracks changes to said numbers, too.

Yes, I know I could just look at the numbers every week and do it myself. The point of making a fucking wish is to get brightly colored and handily postable pie charts at the touch of a screen. This is why I’m asking imaginary magical beings (or bored programmers) instead of building a frickity fracking spreadsheet. Don’t be pert, Fairy Godmother . . . ¬†you’re already on the defensive, remember?

Anyway, the app is a solid idea. You and the coder could go halfsies, which would pay for Tauntaun feed and stabling. And don’t argue about that. It just plain serves you right.

Down Memory Lane in Nevada

Kelly, Barb and I spent the holiday season in Reno, Nevada, visiting my relations and touring Kelly around some of the significant-to-me places from childhood. This, for example, is the view from my grandparents’ front window:

The Grandparents' Ranch

We went out to the ranch in Yerington on December 24th – my aunt had basically kicked us out of the house so she could make bird and ham and other holiday feast items without meddling from the rest of us.

One site on my must-see list is the now-flooded Anaconda Copper Mine. So peaceful-looking, no? So very contaminated, I’m afraid.

Anaconda Copper Mine

I also wanted to revisit a piece of playground equipment that looms large in my memory.
Rocket Slide
Though Barb doesn’t remember the rocketslide, she was nevertheless able to find it (Yerington is that small) and she took these two of me regressing to the age of six.
Rocket Slide

Nesting, nesting

On Saturday K and I took a Modo car to the wilds of South East Marine Drive to see if we could track down a new winter-weight quilt at a DaniaDown warehouse outlet. It had been about ninety degrees in our house for the better part of a week, but summer’s when you get cheap bedding. Or so went the rationale.

Our previous duvet had also come from DaniaDown, I’m pretty sure. It had been a toasty and delicious winter snuggler, but time had ground the fill down to powder and our cat Buddha had done some pretty unspeakable (but easy to guess) things to it.

Anyway, we scored: found a duvet, good and poofy, with a hypo-allergenic exterior and lots of stitching to keep the filling from wandering. We got a new set of sheets and a cushion for good measure.

Upgrading some of our oldest, beat-up stuff–even as we toss a mountain of clutter–is part of a big Alyx and Kelly plan to nest, to make the house prettier and more comfortable. We’d meant to get started in the spring but strata repairs got in the way. No complaints, of course, as that got us pretty new windows. But there may be a few more strata things on the horizon. So, sadly, we’re going at this fixing up the house thing a bit judiciously.

But a cozier bed is an awesome start!

And speaking of cozy, don’t you just want to cuddle some baby ducks?
Ducklings at Piper Spit, Burnaby Lake

And Bingo is its name-oh

A couple weeks ago Kelly and I bought ourselves an ottoman that turns into a (very low, very narrow) bed that also transforms into a coffeetable. It’s just like Clark Kent, only more vulnerable to cat hair. It came from Vancouver Special, and they call it Bingo.

So far I have succeeded at sleeping, sitting, and propping my legs on it. It seems to work exactly as advertised, and solves a few thorny domestic challenges I was having, and seems to have been a good all-round purchase.

Also, it allows me to toast my legs by the fire while poking at my various iGadgetry as they lie flat on the floor.

My baggage, let me show it you

Until I started taking pictures I was a grab the wallet and go woman: no purse, no supplies, no nothing extraneous. But when I got into photography I knew that I had to carry the camera everywhere; otherwise I’d be seeing things I wanted to shoot when I didn’t have it along. I’d also be leaving it at the library or wherever I went because if I didn’t always have it, I wouldn’t be able to remember if I’d left the house with it on any given occasion.

And so my soup to nuts big bag o’ stuff, Titanic, was born.


Now I am trying to streamline. I have gotten myself a wafer thin bluetooth keyboard to go with the iPad I’ve finally ordered. The desired end result, after months of scrimping my pennies, is that these gadget will all but eliminate carrying the laptop around, and also allow me to move the camera and other must-have stuff into a lighter backpack.

(Oh, there were other rationales, too. We want to use it for comfort viewing when we travel. We got so media-deprived in Greece that we tried to watch Tango and Cash.)

Titanic the monster bag is gloriously big and ridiculous, and there’s no doubt benefit to my bones and muscles to be ambling around with twelve pounds on my back all the time, but the laptop makes it seventeen and that’s sheerly ridiculous.

Though the tablet hasn’t arrived yet, the keyboard also works with the iPod. So I have been tip-tapping at the cafe this rainy morning, trying it out and thinking about apps.

I do almost all of my first-draft writing longhand or on an app called Simplenote, which lets you put together simple text files and sync them, when the Wifi is flowing, to the Internets. I found Simplenote in a “top apps of 2010” article and though I’ve played with other versions of the same thing, it’s been the best so far for my needs. Ninety percent of what I do is text, after all.

Still, Simplenote won’t play nicely (or at all) with Word documents, which would make the prospect of revising 500-page novels while off-line–something I do a lot–rather challenging. I went ahead with the pad purchase on the theory that something that can handle Word files while offline, and sync to the cloud (preferably Dropbox) will eventually emerge from the nethers of the app store. Just yesterday I saw there’s something called “Office2” … I can’t tell from the salesbumf if it syncs, though.

This ornate activity and insistence on syncing comes of my being someone who refuses to pay an exorbitant monthly fee for mobile Internet access wherever I go. Even so, it does seem to me that a meta-app, something that opened up and auto-synced all one’s various cloud-based computer stuff when the Wifi was flowing, would be a good addition to the app store. It’s also one they don’t, as far as I can tell, already have.

And maybe I’ve just missed it, but I have spent a ludicrous amount of time surfing the App store. It’s just my kind of shopping: I can do it on my butt, from my house, none of the toys come wrapped in plastic and half the stuff I’m interested in is free. What’s also true, is that in an odd way, there’s not much there. Oh, there are twenty or fifty or a thousand “To-Do list” apps, but I’m guessing the average human needs one. Or two, if they want a dedicated grocery list that beeps when you’re near the store with the good price on kitty litter. I limit my game-playing to things that require at least a little brain–puzzles, essentially–and though I’ve loaded up a blogging portal for all my various online real estate, I still tend to compose things in Simplenote and then clean up the HTML on the computer when I get home.