To err is human...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

...To really foul things up requires a computer.

I thought I was going to be all big-girl and all and transfer my files over all by myself. I'm not too shabby at working a computer. I know what things are, and I use my regular programs just fine. I shouldn't need my hubby to do this for me.

Ha. Haha. Funny me. I knew just enough to get myself messed up.

The salesman at the Apple store told us about Migration Assistant. It can move my programs over for me. Bad idea. Because I knew less than I thought I knew, I tried it instead of doing the safe and slow way by copy/paste from old to new over the home network. I know how to do that, but I thought I was going to be clever and use the speedy way. Speed is not good when you don't know exactly what you are doing or what to expect when it happens. Speed just makes bad things happen faster.

MA doesn't copy then paste, so that you can go back if you mess up. It cuts and pastes. If you delete anything to try again because it didn't do what you expected, too bad for you. You now have no copies of those files.

So, bye bye iTunes library. I have a bunch of empty folders. Even though iTunes has no obligation to restore my purchases--it's in the terms and conditions--I still wrote them to explain what happened and beg them to do so anyway. Even if I can't get everything back, getting a significant portion of it will go a long way to helping me out. The free podcasts are easy enough to redownload, but even with taking out the songs I loaded via CD, I had a lot of music on there, not to mention the couple movies and several show episodes I'd purchased via iTunes. That's a lot of money. I'm hoping whoever reads my plea will take pity on me. My most recent purchase was just a few days ago, too. Pout.

In using MA to transfer my music over, I also let it move my documents and photos over. They suffered the same fate. However, those aren't completely gone since I did copy ALL of those onto my flashdrive. I am quivering at how close I came to destroying a few years of work, not to mention lots of cute pictures that may not be on any other device. Scary! Since I avoided that fate, I am merely sniping at myself for idiocy rather than being in a severe depressive fugue right now.

Backup, backup, backup. You've heard it before. It's no joke. I don't backup as often as I should, but I am so grateful I did yesterday.

But other than proving how fast a computer can help a human wipe out tons of data, I do love my new one. I just finished loaded my documents via my flashdrive, so I will try to do a little work this afternoon before my son gets home. It'll be easier to write now that my battery lasts more than a couple minutes and my power cord isn't half broken. (I can sit where and how I want again.) My screen image isn't affected by the angle of the screen to my eyes. And the MagSafe cord connection is so cool.

New computer! (and blog thoughts)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Squiggly happy dance! I am on my way to go buy a new laptop at the Apple store in Buffalo. My iBook G4 is finally wearing out, but it has survived long enough that I can get files transferred over. I made backups of my documents, photos, and bookmarks (almost as important as the documents). Even though I could get a PC laptop for considerably cheaper, Macs just appeal to me more. The MagSafe power cord connection is just one significant selling point of the MacBook Pro. No yanking the laptop off its perch again because my feet snag the cord when I'm getting up. *sheepish look* The MagSafe ones just pop off. (Not that I plan to do that again, but I'll feel better anyway.)

New computer. Squeee!

For other news, I am shifting my posting schedule. Mondays just have not been working well, since they have turned into errand and activity days (my hubby's day off) and I don't get much chance to write stuff up on the weekend. But Wednesday/Friday feels like a lopsided week, so I will give Tuesday/Friday a try. I'm also considering some of those blog hop events. Meeting people is fun, and most of the hops seem to be on Fridays. Since I don't want to stop my regular feature or double up, I'll just alternate weeks. Please tell me if you have any favorite blog hops.

Filk Friday: A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End

Friday, March 25, 2011

This is supposed to be a filk for Terry Pratchett's Discworld. The words don't begin until a minute into the music. But it is catchy. A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End starts off sounding like early Final Fantasy music, and when the words begin, it picks up a sort of Clancy Brothers feel. One of the top comments is, "Seen on a chalkboard in Hogwarts: "I will not teach first-years to sing 'A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End'."

And as a bonus: here is Death's Job Interview from a production of Terry Pratchett's "Mort."

Filk Friday: Cost of the Crown

Friday, March 18, 2011

Filling several places in my favorites list, the Valdemar books feature many characters that I can honestly say I admire, even feel inspired by. Talia, Skif, Alberich, Dirk, Kerowyn, Elspeth (post-brat stage), Karal, Master Ulbrich...the list goes on. Cost of the Crown highlights Queen Selenay's inner thoughts. She's only a primary character in Exile's Honor and Exile's Valor, but she plays an active role in many books beginning with the Arrows trilogy.

For those of you who may be less familiar with Valdemaran politics, the Monarch of Valdemar must also be a Herald, Chosen by a Companion. They may look like horses, but Companions are incorruptible sentient beings with the ability to judge a person's heart. Ethics, duty to others, and compassion are among the traits they look for. Heralds serve the people by scouting, serving as arbiters as needed, fetching and delivering critical messages, and uncovering information needed to keep the kingdom safe. Just to name a few of their roles.

The law that the Monarch must be a Herald is a safeguard to ensure that their people would always have a leader who would care more about the people than the power of position. You might say it was divinely inspired. (Read the books; you'll understand.)

Queen Selenay took the crown as a young woman, barely in her twenties, after her father was killed in the final battle against the Tedrels. Though she'd been raised as the Heir-presumptive, then Heir-In-Right after she was Chosen, being queen was harder than she'd thought.

This song not only shows why I admire Selenay herself but also served as inspiration for one of my own characters: King Reynard. They have different personalities and problems facing them, and of course no Heralds or Companions in my story, but they share many of the same leadership traits and views toward their role to their people.

Shandeen O'Neill's phenomenal voice just makes this song even more achingly beautiful. You can find it on the Lovers, Lore, and Loss album, available at Firebird Arts.

End of March reading list

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sorry about Monday. I totally spaced on posting anything. I was running around doing errands like the urgently needed dump run. I did make it to the library though, and since my brain is a little fuzzy today from my head's aversion to dust (I started spring cleaning yesterday), let me tell you what I'll be reading over the next few days. These were all selected by browsing the first row of the teen fiction section except for the last one.

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
The lettering of the title caught my eye. Then it still looked interesting once I pulled it out. It's the first book of the series, which is good. I don't like starting in the middle.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I've seen this at the bookstore and been wanting to read it for months. Now I'm going to. It sounds like a book I may want to add to my shelf.

A Matter of Profit by Hilari Bell
Not sure what prompted me here. The lettering and title didn't tell me much, but the face on the spine made me think desert story. I liked the stylized painting look. But when I opened it and saw it was actually SF rather than F despite the man holding a sword on the cover, I had to take it with me. It's been hard to find SF books that interest me, and the jacket description sounded like my sort of plot.

Fortune's Journey by Bruce Coville
Not SF or F or even for children, but it's still a Bruce Coville book. It's been over 10 years since I read this historical fiction for teens. Just seemed like a nice balance with the other three books I picked up.

The Black Cauldron (audiobook) by Lloyd Alexander
Another one I'm familiar with already (very familiar), but that's what makes it such a great choice for listening to while I'm working on sewing this week. And I think James Langton is the same person who read for the Book of Three audiobook I'd checked out a few weeks ago. He gave each of the primary characters different voices. Wonderful to listen to even if I did always imagine Gurgi with a higher pitched voice instead of a deep one. Probably because of the cartoon version of the stories. If it's the same reader, I'm sure I'll enjoy this just as much.

Filk: Friday: Golden Eyes

Friday, March 11, 2011

Golden Eyes was inspired by Andre Norton's Witch World series. Later Mercedes Lackey turned the song into a short story called Werehunter. You can find the story in her anthology called Werehunter, along with some other wonderful stories, or you read it on, where it has been reprinted with permission from Baen Books.

I prefer this version over the one on The Horsetamer's Daughter. The melody is the same, but the arrangement on Magic, Moondust, and Melancholy captures the emotion better in my opinion. The guitar and flute balance well with the vocal and give the song a softer ambiance. I'd almost call it a quiet elegance, though that may be an odd description for a melancholic song.

Historic Costume: a sampling

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Those of you who are writing fantasies, especially historically based fantasy, here is a book you may want to look through for ideas about clothing: Historic Costume In Pictures: Over 1450 costumes on 125 plates. These costume plates were originally published by Braun & Schneider between 1861 and 1890 and re-released by Dover Publications in 1975. They illustrate a period from ancient times to late 19th century.

It is in no ways a complete catalog of garments, but it is great for the sampling of garb covering regions across Europe and the near side of Asia. This is particularly helpful if you don't know which time period or region you want your story to fit. By zooming in on a time and place, it allows you more time for meaningful research.

The pictures have a wonderful depth of detail. Folds and ripples in the fabric are meticulously shaded in. You can't see enough of the outfits from a single viewpoint to recreate them with any significant degree of accuracy, but with the help of someone who knows fabrics, you can narrow down types of fabric used and get a feel for how layers affect the total look.

In addition to the ideas the clothing can give you, since the plates show people wearing the outfits, study their hair and head coverings. A historic look isn't complete with simply clothing; it's the the styling and accessories that go with it. The assortment of items such as weapons, bags, instruments, walking sticks, and baskets being held by many of the figures also add to the setting flavor.

If you find this book helpful, there are additional Dover books on fashion. They are likely to be out of print, but if your library has them, you are in for some great ideas.

Milestone winner

Monday, March 7, 2011

Well the drawing had a smaller turnout than I was hoping for, but I was still glad to see a couple lurkers pop out long enough to say something. I'm keeping this brief, since my internet may cut out at any time. (happened once last night and twice this morning already, modem issues, not happy) Our six contenders in the hat are Emily, Jai, Brandi, Joshua, Heidi, and Brad.

Shuffling the names...shaking them in the hat...and the winner is...


If you would send me a quick note about whether you'd like your gift card from Borders or Barnes & Noble, I will get that for you and send it out. Thanks to everyone who participated. Have a great Monday!

Filk Friday: Ragged Man

Friday, March 4, 2011

I don't think I've shared much from Heather Alexander yet. Ragged Man vaguely reminds me of a story one of my fellow WD forumites had been working on a couple years ago. I wish I could remember who it was, so I could ask how the story was coming along. Even without the tugging on half remembered characters, this song has a pull all on its own. The delicate touch on the guitar enhances the yearning in her voice. I wonder how many different stories could be inspired by these lyrics.

Remember, today is the last day to put in an entry into my milestone drawing. Only five people have entered so far. It's easy peasie lemon squeezie, to borrow a term from a writer buddy. Go to Monday's post to enter. (*melodramatic whisper* $10 gift card, $10 gift card)

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Last week, Juliette Wade was talking about the "why?" question when it came to stories, especially with first lines, whether they're at the beginning of a story or simply at the beginning of a paragraph. Wanting to know why something happens is our motivation to keep reading. Authors who include plenty of why moments will hook their readers. But if they never answer them, they will disappoint those same readers.

Just look at the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Haven't you ever had question after question when reading the basic story? From the back of The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde:

Why would a miller claim that his daughter could spin straw into gold? Why would the king believe him? And why would an odd little man that can spin straw into gold do so in exchange for a tiny gold ring? The story is just silly.

In an attempt to make sense of this wayward fairy tale, Vivian Vande Velde provides six alternative versions of the classic account, each of which is far more intriguing and revealing than the original.

These stories are:

A Fairy Tale In Bad Taste
Straw Into Gold
The Domovoi
Papa Rumpelstiltskin
Ms. Rumpelstiltskin
As Good As Gold

Not only are the stories fun, but the author's note in the beginning is a must-read. She begins by comparing the game she used to call Gossip and that I know as Telephone to the way fairy tales have changed over time from oral retellings. Each time the story was told, it was a little different based on time and place. Eventually, so many details would have been changed or lost that the story made no sense anymore. Just like gossip, and just like this story in particular. She goes through the story and elaborates on what doesn't make sense. Her assessments and asides had me chuckling throughout. How many author's notes can you say you've actually enjoyed?

So if you like fairy tales, especially ones that make sense, you should go find a copy of this book. I like to think that even Juliette's daughter would find her why's fully answered.

Quick reminder: if you haven't already, go to Monday's post and enter in my milestone drawing. All you have to do is tell me how you found my blog and what made you decide to follow me. Yes, even if I know perfectly well how we became acquainted. I'm seeing who is paying attention. You have through the end of Friday, so what are you waiting for? ;D