Me 2012

March 2020 in Review

Health/Fitness
Somehow, the March epoch has finally drawn to an end. What the heck, March. Why.

I am generally healthy, which is more than can be said for too many Americans at this point. (Seriously, March. You were terrible and you should be ashamed of yourself.)

Exercise was up and calorie consumption was down in March. I have not reached January and December's lofty heights for exercise, but I've been going out every day to walk. I've been trying to hit enough pokestops to send gifts to everyone on my friends list who is eligible for a gift. This is more challenging now that I'm walking around my neighborhood, which has few pokestops and even fewer people, instead of the Plaza, which has lots of pokestops and even more people. Though I expect at this point the Plaza is pretty deserted, to be fair. Still, I haven't been driving except for work, food, and medical care since KC shut down on March 24. Even in the week before that, I'd only been to the Plaza once, from 7AM to 10AM on a cold, rainy Sunday (when it was also deserted).

I've been eating less because a lot of my "eating when not hungry" comes from boredom eating at work and eating at restaurants. Also, pretty sure my appetite was depressed during my staycation. Anyway, working from home does not provoke nearly the "I am bored, let's have a snack to pass the time" response that being at the bank does. I find this amusing given how often articles on working from home cite the easy availability of the refrigerator as a drawback.

Anyway, my weight actually dropped in March, to 168. I am now down 16 pounds since I started losing weight in January 2019. So I'm on track with my "1 pound per month" goal.

Writing
Still writing a little bit a month on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. About 4000 words this month. It's up to 61,700.

The Business of Writing
I released a novelette! The Mortal Prince and the Moon Etherium is now available FREE if you subscribe to my newsletter, or you can buy it in stores for $2.99.

I did the cover layout for Mortal Prince in March.

I also finished the penultimate proofread of The Twilight Etherium and finalized the cover image, so Alinsa has that book now for layout.

Art/Other

I've been working on the cover art for Spark of Desire. It's mostly done at this point, but gonna fiddle with the background some more, and the text layout is a placeholder.

Spark_of_Desire_WIP_cover

Gaming

I got tired of Civ V halfway through March, shortly after winning a game with every leader in the original game.

I've been doing the Pokemon GO Battle League instead. It is not very satisfying but eh.

Socializing

ha ha ha no.

I didn't go to visit my parents in March, either.

Goal Scorecard
Help Lut: Did this! Although I fell down on getting one of his prescriptions renewed in a timely fashion. It's not one of the important ones, though, and hopefully the pharmacy & doctor will get it taken care of soon.
Finish final proofread TTE: All done!
Work on final edits for Spark and/or write more of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady: Technical completion remains best completion
Do something art-related every week: Managed this by working on book covers.

Goals
Help Lut
Maintain minimum functions
Stretch goals:
Do some art-like thing every week
Do some writing. Like three sentences a day. You can make this up by writing six sentences on some days as necessary.
That seems like more than enough, under the circumstances. There's a 4thewords event for CampNano and I kind of want to participate but I don't know about actually writing any significant amounts of literally anything. Even a blog post feels like A Lot these days.

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Me 2012

The Mortal Prince and the Moon Etherium: new release!

Oh hey I have a new ebook out! \o/

It is FREE if you subscribe to my newsletter! Just click here, sign up, and the download link will be emailed to you.

It is also available in stores for $2.99, if you don't like signing up for things.



This one is a novelette, and I have a short blurb for it because it is a short ebook:

It would take a miracle for Eclipse to accept the role his parents believe he was born to take: that of a princess.

But the fey lands are strange and perilous, and the fey have their own ideas about what kind of miracle Eclipse needs.


Content Notes/Spoilers
Contains misgendering of a trans man.

Other Stuff
This is a standalone story, but it works best if you've already read The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince. It was originally written as part of that book, in fact, but I excised it because it's a 15,000 word flashback and it's not essential to the main story of that novel.

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Me 2012

Working from Home and Other Life Stuff

Today, for the first time in my twenty-three years in banking, I worked from home.

The work day got off to a rocky start, as I tried to connect from my desktop PC and the remote site said that my PC -- the only computer in my house that I have specifically installed antivirus on instead of just having Windows Defender -- had insufficient antivirus protection. o_O

I knew that my Surface could connect because I'd tested it already. I did not want to spend the day trying to do my day job on a 10" screen, however. I tried the laptop, which also connected fine. Okay, guess I'm working in the living room after all.

Normally, when I use the laptop in the living room to write, I lie back on the couch with my back propped up on a big cushion. It's not a comfortable position for eight hours of working, though. I decided to try using the love-seat-with-footrest that we never use, instead. That worked out fine. Now I have a Pretend Office in the living room, in addition to the Pretend Coffee Shop.

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about working from home. I haven't wanted to try it; my boss told me back in November that I was allowed to work from home, but it wasn't until the start of March that I asked her to get me set up to do so. I live less than a mile from my job. It is not an onerous commute.

So I was surprised to discover that I enjoyed it. And it wasn't because I was goofing off; I was actually much less distracted than I normally am when I'm at the bank, in fact. I liked a lot of aspects of it: I didn't have to pack a lunch, for example. I actually went into the kitchen and made mac & cheese for lunch, for that matter. My office mate was a cat and she is good company although she hardly put in any hours at all, the slacker. (She found it disconcerting when I set up on the love seat on the other side from her usual spot, and never returned to it.) I did take some mini-breaks to get drinks or poke at my phone for a couple of minutes. But I did so much less often than I do when I'm at the bank.

Another pleasant thing: I didn't feel like snacking nearly as much as I do when working at the bank. I've been eating much less than usual anyway. When I'm bored or stressed, especially at work, I will eat to pass the time or make myself feel better. But that doesn't happen as much at home. Last month, my average calories-eaten-per-day was 1830. Since I went on staycation, it's 1580. I suspect part of this is that I haven't been going out for food so I don't have to fit big restaurant meals into my daily allotment. I usually only eat half of a serving anyway, but even so.

The thing where I eat 600 calories of snacks in a day while at the bank is probably a bigger factor, though.

I'd just come back from vacation, so there was plenty of email piled up to read and tasks to do, which I imagine contributed to my ability to focus. I was never at a loss for what to work on next. Maybe when the novelty wears off, I will find myself as easily distracted at home as I am at work. But it does seem unlikely that it'll be any worse.

Being stuck on the 14" laptop screen instead of my 25" desktop monitor was annoying, but not as bad as I expected. In fact, I was probably as much inconvenienced by having to use the laptop keyboard/touchpad/touchscreen instead of a full size keyboard and trackball.

Obviously, I could get my laptop hooked up to proper peripherals but the whole thing is: I already HAVE a perfectly good desktop and I'm unwilling to spend much of my own time or money because some IT widget doesn't want me to use it. I asked IT what kind of antivirus they expect my desktop to have. The laptop is fine for now; I'll see what they say before I worry about making further adaptations.

Today, Lut had his usual monthly oncology appointment. The clinic called last night to say that only patients were allowed into the clinic at the present time, and they're screening everyone who enters for fevers and any COVID-19 contact they might have had. Lut didn't like that I couldn't sit on the physician-visit part of the appointment like I usually do, because sometimes I have useful information to contribute or think of questions to ask that he doesn't. But I was, on the whole, relieved that there would be significantly fewer people at the clinic. With just patients in it, the waiting and treatment areas wouldn't be crowded and everyone could stay 6+ feet apart for the most part.

While he was at the clinic, I went for a walk like I usually do, except outside because even if the mall was open for mall-walking (I doubt it) I wasn't going to enter it. After the walk, I ran a couple of errands, including stopping briefly at the bank to deposit some cash and pick up a couple of things that were delivered there for me. The lobby is closed to the public at the bank and I hadn't thought to bring my key, so I went to the drive-through. I have worked at this branch for seventeen years and never been at the drive-through before. It was fine. Weird, but fine. They let me in so I could get the package. It turned out My boss had sent me a big box full of snacks from nuts.com, and a couple of people I'd been doing a lot of queries for sent me a gift card to the Cheesecake Factory. Aww.

I went home and started laundry, and then headed back to the clinic to get Lut after an hour and a half.

I haven't done much since then. Maybe I'll work on the cover for Spark of Desire some more. I've been doing a lot more art than writing lately; writing requires too much brain.

Tomorrow, I'll work from home for around 4 hours and that'll be my work week. Curious to see if working 20 hours next week will feel significantly more challenging than this 12-hour work week.

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Me 2012

Staycation

I've been on staycation since Wednesday. I go back to work on Tuesday.

Staycation is less fun when it's REALLY staying at home, but it's still better than trying to work, especially now.

I have mostly been working on the cover for Spark of Desire. I haven't done the final proofread of Spark of Desire, but I am happy with the book and am unlikely to make any substantial changes to it, so might as well start the cover.

Of course, it's a terrible book to release NOW, because the subplot is "protagonists trying to cure mysterious new disorder". This subject wasn't topical when I started writing it. Why, universe.

Besides working on art, I've written a thousand words or so on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. It's not much, but it's something.

I went to Walmart Saturday for groceries. I've been ordering groceries online and picking them up from the store for many months now, which seems like one of the more sensible ways to get groceries under the circumstances. Walmart doesn't even charge a fee for pickup. The system is laboring under disruptions at present. Usually, you can request a pickup time several days in advance. Right now, the only options are "today" and "tomorrow". When I tried ordering Thursday evening, there were no slots available. My cat woke me up at 1AM on Friday morning, so I tried ordering from my phone, and got a slot for Saturday at 11AM.

I left early, to do some walking around by the pokestops near Walmart. One of those pokestops is a donut shop, which was open and doing a lot of business. Enough so that I stopped walking along the strip of grass between the road and its parking lot, because I didn't want to be that close to people. It was surreal in comparison with the podcast I was listening to, where a man talked about a coffee shop line that stretched around the block -- not because there were a lot of people, but because everyone was standing 6 feet apart.

Walmart sent me the "your order is ready" notification 15 minutes before the hour, as usual, so I finished my walk and went to get my order. There were a lot of cars on the road, and a lot of people coming out of Walmart. The pickup area was much quieter than I'd expected given the state of the website: just one other car waiting.

I got out of my car while the store clerk loaded my groceries into the trunk. I stood by the driver's door and said, "Normally I help load, but under the circumstances that feels more of an unkindness than a kindness."

He gave a dry laugh. "Yeah. You just stay over there, that's fine."

Normally they have me sign for the groceries on a store smartphone; they didn't this time. Another little thing to avoid unnecessary contact.

My city and the smaller city I was in have both closed all restaurants to dine-in, and restricted gatherings to 50 people or fewer and 10 people or fewer, respectively. But they haven't shut down businesses. A lot of businesses have voluntarily closed. I saw a tire shop packing up on Friday afternoon: taking all of the tires that are normally on display outside and storing them. My bank closed all its lobbies as of Friday, though the drive-throughs remain open. Customers with needs that can't be handled by tellers can make an appointment to meet with someone at a bank. I don't know how they're handling employees who aren't set up to work from home. I can check my work email from home now, but I haven't wanted to. I am not the sort of employee who checks her work email when she's on vacation. Not even now that I'm salaried and have access to it.

I checked my email just now anyway. And I still don't know how employees are being handled. My division is still working -- all of us, as far as I can tell -- and the people who didn't already have remote access are not getting it. They still have to go to work, although they're taking steps to spread people out more. Branch staff may also still be coming to work, but not seeing customers face-to-face. It looks like branch managers are handling that with their staff individually instead of us all getting an announcement.

That's better than what happened at the hotel across the street from me. On Monday night, senior management received notice from headquarters. On Tuesday morning, they told their staff that the hotel was closing. Everyone was fired. Not 'laid off until it's safe to reopen'. Fired. I don't know if the chain plans to hire new staff and reopen after the crisis or if they're going to sell it. Maybe they don't know, either.

Southwest sent me an email that they were extending the period during which funds from cancelled tickets could be re-used, from "one year from purchase" to June 2021. They were also allowing customers to reschedule flights for a later date with no price change. That struck me as extraordinary; in an age where most airlines charge exorbitant change fees and no refunds are offered, Southwest is making their policy more generous, for people who had already agreed to the previous terms.

My city's mass transit is still running. They've waived all fees -- they were working on making the mass transit system fee-free anyway -- to minimize contact between riders and drivers. The apps for the electronic-lock bikes and scooters all allow 20-minute free rides, to encourage social distancing. I thought that was clever.

We are all trying so hard.

I listen to several economics podcasts, and the enormity of the impact from the shutdown is staggering. There will be a cost in lives to this, too. I see people blaming capitalism for this, as if it is the fault of capitalism that we do not live in a world where no human labor is involved in providing food, shelter, clothing, power, and medical care to people. These are not objects that we could all have an infinite amount of, forever, if only billionaires weren't selfish and greedy. Humans -- mostly low paid, overworked humans -- work the farms and hospitals, drive the trucks, staff the supply chains and oil rigs and power companies. They can't all stay home and play video games for a couple of months without mass death.

So much activity has ground to a halt, and so much of it absolutely must continue. I don't know if even the US federal government can fill in this enormous gulf with enough money.

I hope they will try. It is vital that they make the attempt.

A lot of people have suggested that rent and mortgage payments should be suspended. I think it's a better idea for the federal government to cut checks to all American adults and let them pay their bills from that, myself. But one little thing on the subject of mortgage payments: I am pretty confident that this is not an action that banks can take voluntarily. I don't mean "they wouldn't be willing to take it"; I mean "the regulations that govern banking would prohibit this." As a rule, regulators take a dim view of banks classifying loans as sound and collectible at the same time that the bank is not receiving payments on them. Yes, there are payment extensions, but doing these with no fees and no interest collected on massive numbers of loans would -- in ordinary times -- invite a cease-and-desist notice from the regulators. The federal government would actually have to step in and say that banks are even allowed to take such an action.

Oh, I almost forgot. I set two of my books to free on non-Amazon stores. Amazon has figured out that A Rational Arrangement is free and price-matched it without pulling it, so that's nice. (Amazon's official position is that you can only set books to free if they're exclusive to Amazon. If the book is reported as free, Amazon will either price-match it to free, or they'll remove it from the store. It's book-selling roulette!) Amazon hasn't figured out that The Moon Etherium is free yet, though. It's free on all the other stores. Anyway, the links will take you to either books2read.com's page or your favorite store, if you've already told books2read.com what that is. So if you want to get The Moon Etherium for free, you'll have to click here for Kobo or B&N , or Apple or wherever.

One thing I keep thinking is "We are not all staying home because it's the apocalypse. We are staying home to STOP the apocalypse. We are staying home to stop hundreds of millions of people from getting sick, and millions of people from dying."

It is a tiny, personal thing that we are all doing, a small sacrifice for some of us and a major one for others, as they lose their livelihoods and watch their business crumble. But it is also our moment of heroism; our moment of deciding, as a nation, that millions of lives are more important than trillions of dollars.



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content

Pokemon GO: Battle League

Since Niantic removed the "walk 3km before you can play a round in the Battle League" requirement, I've been playing in the Battle League a lot more often. To my surprise, I enjoy the Battle League even though I'm not usually a big fan of PvP with strangers.

I'm also getting to be moderately good at it. I've won 154 of 269 games played, which is not amazing but I will absolutely take "better than average."

There are three "tiers" in the Battle League, with the Great capping at the lowest combat power of the three (1500), Ultra capping at 2500, and Master League having no cap. I think the theory here was that the Great tier would let people who haven't been playing long and don't have the most powerful Pokemon have a rank where they can compete. In practice, you're not going to have a competitive team unless you've been playing assiduously for a very long time.

Lots of people have been playing longer than I have, but I have been an avid player for a year and a half.

Last Friday, March 6, I banged my head against the Great League, trying to get in three wins to finish a special research mission in time for a Saturday event. I lost a few games disastrously, did some online research, and put together a new team, which lost somewhat less disastrously. After winning one game out of eight, I ended up whining to Terrycloth to lose a couple of games to me on Saturday morning (Terrycloth is a good friend. ❤️)

I thought that I might have risen to the level of my incompetence: I had made it to rank 8 of the pre-season Battle League, mostly on the strength of my Master team. The Battle League started Season One recently, and reset everyone's ranks. I thought I might do better in the new season.

I did do a little better, but still badly. On Saturday (March 14), I spent much of the morning once again researching the optimal pokemon for the Great League, scrutinizing my existing collection of pokemon, and taking notes to determine the most efficient and effective way to improve my team. I had some advantages:

* I have kept at least one of every pokemon I've ever caught (I have expanded my pokemon storage many many times)
* I tend to catch pokemon indiscriminately -- for xp or stardust or research missions -- so I've built up a lot of candy for most types of pokemon, even though I had no use for the candy stockpiles.
* I have a stockpile of both fast and charged training machines

And I had some disadvantages:

* I have been spending stardust to power up my Team Rocket counters and to purify shadow pokemon, so while I had *some* stardust stockpiled, I didn't have a lot, and I will need some to power up my teams for the Ultra and Master competition stages.
* I have generally retained only the highest or close to highest level pokemon of any given kind

This last is a disadvantage in the Great League, where the highest level pokemon of a given breed might well be too powerful to compete. For instance, I have 4 Swamperts accumulated from a Community Day event, and all of them are far too high in level for the Great League. I do have four low-level Mudkips (which can be evolved into Swampert), because they're shiny and I keep all my shinies. But I don't have enough of their candy to both evolve one and give it a second charged attack.

Being able to give every pokemon on your team two charged attacks is a significant advantage: it gives you versatility, if you can remember how and when to use it.

I read through a few "best pokemon for the Great League" lists, but my favorite was pokemon.gamepress.gg's "Great League Tiers", which ranks several dozen pokemon from 1 (worst) to 5 (best). My first attempt at making a team was "which of the 7 pokemon on this random listicle do I (a) have and (b) are of about the right level or can reasonably reach it?" This team had a serious weakness in that it had two pokemon that were vulnerable to Fight, and two that were vulnerable to Ground. So any team that used either of those had an excellent chance of beating mine, and Fight in particular is popular.

The Gamepress tiers were more exhaustive than any of the listicles, and were complete with write-ups on what moves to use for each pokemon and why. I could have outfitted my one Registeel for use, but went with Probonose instead -- almost as good, and I had plenty of regular candy with which to buy it a second attack. Investing 53 rare candy in the Great League is not appealing.

I am still bitter because I tried to power up an Altaria for use, but I pressed "confirm" on the last power up before it registered that it was going to 1501 instead of 1500: one point too high. 9_9 And it's 400 candy to evolve, which even I do not have to burn on another Altaria. -_-

My current team is Lanturn, Medicham, and Probonose. Lanturn is not ideal; in a perfect world, I'd have a flyer in that position. As it is, both Lanturn and Probonose are vulnerable to ground, so a team that leads with ground generally beats me. I also have some trouble with grass types, because I don't have anyone who's good against grass and one pokemon that's terrible against it.

One of the things I've learned is just how much difference it makes if you know both what your team's strengths and weaknesses are AND recognize the opposing team's pokemon and THEIR strengths and weaknesses. Not even just "this opposing pokemon is type X and weak against Y", but which moves the opposing pokemon will probably be using and even being able to guess which charged move they're using at a given time based on how long it takes them to charge it.

This is not as daunting as it looks, because the most competitive teams all draw on the same 30 or so pokemon, and if someone isn't using one of those pokemon, the pokemon is probably not a serious threat. Also, you can often guess the type of a pokemon by appearance. Sometimes not, though: a lot of players mistake my Lanturn for a pure water type and use electric against it. But Lanturn is a water/electric and is resistant to electric. Recently, someone tripped me up with a Flygon, which looks like a Bug/Flying, and is actually a Dragon/Ground, with the potential for a Rock attack. I did not recover from this mistake.

One particular thing I've noticed is that you rarely want to be the first player to swap out a pokemon. Even when my opening pokemon is bad against the opponent's opener, it's often better to just eat the first loss than to swap. This is because swapping is on a timer: if I swap first, my opponent can swap in response, and then I'm stuck in the new match-up. It's like switching from rock to scissors because your opponent has paper, only to discover your opponent has now switched to rock. You still lose, and your rock still has to face paper later.

It can be worth swapping first if (a) my current pokemon is terrible against my opponent's and (b) BOTH of my other pokemon are good against it.

The corollary here is that if your opponent swaps first, you generally want to swap in response. For one example:

* I open with Lanturn and my opponent opens with Azumarill. Azumarill is NEVER strong against Lanturn, and generally strong against both of my other pokemon.
* My opponent rescues his Azumarill with an Altaria. Altaria is relatively weak against Lanturn. But I should swap my Lanturn for my Probonose ANYWAY, because I don't want my Lanturn to get worn down by Altaria. I still need Lanturn to be healthy and viable against Azumarill when it comes back later in the match.

It's often tempting if your opponent brings out a pokemon that you have the PERFECT counter for to swap to your counter. But if they still have a swap available, they're just gonna swap it out after you swap the counter in. Don't bother.

Anyway, I am still not a Pokemon Go battle expert -- there are a lot of different types and I have nothing like all of the possible interactions and combinations down. But after months of doing Team Rocket battles and now the Battle League, I have a good start on it. It's weird because I found the trainer battles tedious and grindy when they were first introduced. The battle league has gotten to be enough fun for me that when I run out of battles for the day (and this takes a LOT of battles!), I go "Aww".

I am getting bored of my lineup, so I am forcing myself to figure out what my Ultra League lineup will be. Hint: it's gonna be expensive and I need to save my stardust for that instead of trying to beef up my Great League team. :D

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Me 2012

Pandemic

I have done very little writing of late; not even to talk to friends on Discord or Wandering Shop or Twitter. I feel as if my mind has very few thoughts worth either sharing or keeping for my own reference later. At best, I am a sounding board, reflecting other's ideas back at them with some bonus encouraging noises.

But the world is undergoing a pandemic, and maybe it is worth preserving what this is like for me.

In many ways, the word "pandemic" is much more terrifying than the current disease. There have been other pandemics in my lifetime; ones that were never taken as seriously as this one. Swine flu. Avian flu. AIDS. Okay, AIDS got taken pretty seriously, eventually.

The colloquial use of the term "pandemic" is less "global outbreak of the same illness" and more "a disease with a high death rate that a huge percentage of the population has caught." That hasn't happened yet. If we are lucky and cautious, it won't happen.

My sense is that, despite the chaotic ineptitude of the US federal government, as a people -- perhaps even as a species, though the world is too big for me to have a feel for the whole -- we are being cautious. Businesses are allowing or ordering people to work from home, if their job duties permit. People are cutting back on travel. Cities and countries are cancelling and prohibiting large events. My city has not yet had a confirmed case of COVID-19, but our mayor proclaimed a state of emergency on Thursday, and prohibited any event of over 1000 people.

The city's advice is otherwise low key: wash your hands, don't shake hands, avoid/consider avoiding large events if you're in the high-risk pool (weak immune system, older people, etc.) Nothing more radical has been suggested, like "avoid restaurants".

Some countries -- most with a lot more confirmed cases, granted -- are being much more cautious. Closing all restaurants. Restricting the number of people in grocery stores. Customers keeping their distance in lines, and letting the cashier clean the register station between each customer.

The line of "the US has few confirmed cases" does very little to reassure me, because so far we're not really testing for it to speak of. It looks like 16,000 people so far have been tested? And there have been 1600 cases. That was on Friday; it will have changed by now.

But there have been sick people everywhere. There have been cases found in all 50 states. It's like -- if you find a cockroach in your house, you never think "surely that's the only one."

Hordes of twitter bots swarm in to comment disparagingly about "overreactions" whenever any preventative measure is announced. And of course, we'll never know whether or not a given measure was unnecessary. We'll only know if it turns out to have been insufficient. Being cautious feels like a win/win to me: either things get worse anyway and it's obvious that caution mitigated the harm, or things don't get worse in which case OH THANK GOODNESS.

I mean, given a choice between "a bunch of twitter trolls gloat that they were 'right' because the pandemic disappeared" and "thousands more people die" I WILL TAKE THE GLOATING SURE THAT'S FINE BRING IT ON.

My bank sent out a letter on COVID-19, and one of the lines was "most of us have never been through anything like this". I haven't, either, in the sense of "doing social distancing while everyone else was worried and also doing it".

But when the doctors were trying, for the final time, to collect stem cells from Lut, I did something kind of like this. For three weeks, I only left the house to take Lut to the doctor's office. I might have gone for groceries a couple of times? But I didn't go to work, or to a restaurant, or a theater, or a coffee shop. It was a lot of time at home.

I remember finding it more relaxing than I had expected. It was difficult -- there was a lot of driving to the doctor's, for one. But staying home all the time didn't bother me that much.

Lut and I have not yet made a formal decision of "let's just not go anywhere or do anything." But Lut is a cancer patient with a weakened immune system: squarely in the high-risk pool. I have been taking more precautions than I would otherwise: I haven't gone to the Plaza to play Pokemon GO since the Team Rocket event last weekend. I haven't gone to a coffee shop, or to the mall to walk. I did go to the polls to vote on Tuesday, but I brought my own pen, did not sit down, and disinfected everything afterwards.

I have been going outside to walk sometimes, but I've walked either around the neighborhood, or along a low-traffic trail. When I walk in the neighborhood, I often skip the hotel pokestop because there are usually a few people hanging out around the hotel entrance -- smoking, waiting for a shuttle, loading or unloading, etc.

On Friday, I was almost out of milk, so I went to Costco to get more. I didn't really want to, because Costco never has enough cashiers and there's a long wait to check out and leave the store even on weekdays. But I figured I'd go early and it wouldn't be too bad.

I arrived at 10:20AM, about twenty minutes after opening.

The parking lot was full.

I have never seen the parking lot full at Costco, not even on a Saturday in December. On a typical weekday in March, it's not even 20% full. I drove past rows of parked cars on my way through and out of the lot, stunned. I parked at a mostly-empty lot in an office park across the street, and went for a walk on the nearby trail. I did not go to Costco; whatever that mob of shoppers was panicked about, it definitely was not "catching an infectious disease via casual contact". My decision was part "I don't want to be in a store with 500 other shoppers" and part "I don't want to spend an hour and a half getting milk."

I went to HyVee instead; their lot was unusually full but not packed, and as usual, there was a register with no line when I went to check out. The local HyVee is the sort of place that inspires confidence, as if management has it together and has staffed to ensure that both their employees and customers will have a good experience.

I bought another 5-pack of mac & cheese while I was there; the crowds made me wonder if I didn't have enough food at home (I did) and maybe I should get some more. It's fine. I like mac & cheese and it will keep.

Saturday morning, I went for another walk in the neighborhood, partly because I was pacing while I talked on the phone anyway, and partly so I could do some battles in the Pokemon GO battle league. I discovered while I was out walking that I had an unexpected battle available to me, and wondered if Niantic had changed the qualifications. They had; they'd removed the need to walk before doing a battle at all.

Niantic had already made other changes to make the game easier to play at home. Every pokestop spin gets you a gift (to a max of 10) now, instead of every third spin or so. This helps in two ways: you don't have to spin as many stops in order to send gifts to your friends, and your friends can send you gifts more easily. Since receiving gifts gives you stuff, you don't have to go to stops as much for it. They also halved the distance to hatch eggs, increased the spawn rate of pokemons in all areas, doubled the length of time that incense (which attracts pokemon) lasts when you use it, and made an almost-free one-time purchase of a 30-pack of incense available to all players.

Today, Lut wanted to go out to eat. We settled on me picking up food to go instead. The CDC says that surface-to-person transmission is possible, but person-to-person transmission is believed the primary method. So takeout is not "no risk" but it does appear to be "less risk".

I hear friends online report "I've got a cold, but the online doc/phone call to clinic says it's not COVID-19" and I think "we're not testing." Statistically, a cold or the flu is much more likely than COVID-19, and it's not that I don't think a health professional can make a good educated guess about it. But it bothers me that the testing shortage remains acute in the US, weeks after China rolled out widespread testing.

My electric company announced that they will not be turning off service regardless of nonpayment. A couple of hours later, the water company announced the same thing. AMCTheaters announced that they are capping all theaters at a max of 250 suits or 50% of capacity, whichever is lower, so that people can spread out easily within the theater. Most theater chains are doing likewise. That sounds like self-preservation as well as consideration; ticket sales are down anyway. The collateral damage is enormous.

There are hundreds of changes like these taking place, little steps being taken to help people through the crisis and to mitigate the risks. It gives me hope. We'll get through this.

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Me 2012

February in Review

Health/Fitness
On average, I ate a few more calories per day in February than I had in January (1830 vs 1811) , and I exercised significantly less )287 vs 435). The "exercise less" was intentional. As mentioned last month, I don't feel like the December/January levels were sustainable long-term, and I am all about "sustainable long-term".

My weight is basically unchanged. (Seriously, my average weight for the last month is almost identical to (a) my weight as of this morning and (b) my average weight for the last four months.) I should probably try eating a little less in March. Not a lot less, though. Maybe 1750-1800 per day. I am all about sustainability and not making changes that feel like a sacrifice.

Writing
I wrote a little more of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady: 7,400 words. It's up to 57,700 now.

The Business of Writing
Most of my creative work this month was on The Twilight Etherium. At the end of the month, I finally figured out a better way to handle a scene that had been bugging me since I first wrote it. I also made various alterations and added scenes per suggestions from first readers. I am now happy with it!

I made enough changes that I need to do one last read-through of the latest version, but after that, it'll be ready for layout. Whew!

Art/Other
The other creative thing was working on the cover for The Twilight Etherium. It's mostly done: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ERivzGoWkAEaA_W?format=jpg&name=large

I'm going to lighten up the dark brown in "A" and go with that version.

Gaming So much Civ V. I think I've averaged around twenty hours a week of it? I have been working my way through all the leaders in the original game. I only have two left. (Many of them I'd already won with in previous binges on the game.)

I'm also trying a game on "Epic" speed, which basically means "you can move units and explore faster because everything else is sooooo sloooooow." I've played most games on "Quick". I think Standard is really the optimum speed, though.

Socializing
I did an unusual amount of socializing, for me. I went to two birthday parties for friends, and Jenn was in the area twice in February so I got to visit her during both trips. ❤

March will also see me being social, because I'm going to North Carolina to visit my parents.

Goal Scorecard
Help Lut: yup!
Write more of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady: technical completion is best completion
Do something art-related at least once a week: I did this too! Amazingly!

Goals for coming month
Help Lut
Finish final proofread on The Twilight Etherium
Work on final edits for Spark and/or write more of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady
Do something art-related every week. This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/647339.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
hmm

Enough

For the last couple of days, I've felt as if I am doing enough.

It's very common for me to work a full day at day job, then exercise, then deal with various other chores, and at around 7PM think, "that's it, I don't have the energy to do any writing or editing or art or anything. I give up now."

But on Monday and Tuesday, I reached the evening and thought, "I've done enough. I can relax now." I hadn't done anything creative, and I didn't want to do anything creative, and -- for once -- that was OK. I didn't feel guilty about it. Yesterday I even skipped exercise! So unlike me! And I didn't feel bad about it!

Post-editing depression hit me hard after I finished the edits on The Twilight Etherium, and I'd been expecting it to come back when I finished edits on Spark of Desire. But instead I've been, if anything, more cheerful than usual. I worked on some art on Sunday and I wrote a paragraph of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. But mostly I just played video games and didn't worry about things. I spent a couple of hours walking on Sunday for a Pokemon GO event. If this light snow clears up this afternoon (not looking very likely at the moment), I'll go to the Plaza for the raid hour, so that I can wrap up the "raid" portion of the monthly Team Rocket research quest.

As I write this, I am at Pretend Coffee Shop -- my living room, where Pretend Barista (me) serves me a Coke float. I go to Pretend Coffee Shop much more often than a real coffee shop these days: it's cheaper, more comfortable, I like the drinks better, and Lut is happier when I'm at home. Even when I've driven to the Plaza to walk & play Pokemon Go, I generally go home rather than visit any of the four coffee shops there. The main downside of Pretend Coffee Shop is that I don't feel as much pressure to work and it doesn't get me out of my usual rut as effectively.

I remain all out of cope: whenever some minor annoyance occurs, I hurl imprecations in the direction of my computer, or at the air, depending on what's available. I have successfully convinced my brain that screaming at people is Absolutely Never Acceptable and I don't do that. But for whatever reason I have not been able to stop myself from venting at inanimate objects. But I would prefer to treat setbacks with equanimity. I do not enjoy being angry. -_- I decided this week to ask God for help on this one. It seems like the sort of thing He'd be good at. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, I am out of things to ramble about, so I'll poke at one of my WIPs instead.
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studious

January 2020 in Review

Health/Fitness
I ate fewer calories and exercised more in January than I did in either December or November! My weight is approximately the same! I don't care enough to change anything.
 

Calories and exercise levels had not changed a huge amount -- 100 fewer eaten and 20 more burned, basically. I might spend less time exercising less in February because by the end of January I felt like I was spending so much time walking and playing Pokemon GO that it was eating into my creative energy. I did not have creative energy in January.

Writing
Technically, I did some writing? About 1400 words. The Lord, His Monster and Their Lady is up to 50,300 words.

 
Whenever I go for a few days without writing any new fiction, I start to think "this is it. I am never going to write anything again." After my second straight month of writing less than five thousand words, the idea that I'm done with writing feels a lot more real. It's been hard even getting myself to ramble at random on 4thewords just to keep the streak there going. Most days, I didn't bother; I just went to the dashboard and clicked "repair streak" to extend it for the day instead. -_-

 
The Business of Writing
On the other hand, I did finish the second round of edits for The Twilight Etherium, so that's good. I wrapped it up on January 25, and then because I had zero interest in writing, I pulled out Spark of Desire and started editing it. As it's a self-indulgent novel, I have read Spark several times (well, at least my favorite parts) since I finished writing it, and it had far fewer structural issues that I wanted to correct than most of my books. My initial editing list for The Twilight Etherium had 43 points on it; Spark's had just 15.

 
Technically, I finished initial edits on Spark in February, not January, but I finished it on the morning of the first and it's done now.
 

Art
I actually did some drawing this month! Including finishing two color pictures. \o/ I should upload them to Flickr so that I can link them here. *does this*

Forest fire
His Monster
 

Other
I tried finding another person to repair the missing siding. The site I went through told me to get materials myself, so I ran around to various home repair stores trying to figure out what I needed and who had it, and eventually acquired a replacement siding shingle and a block of wood to replace the rotted one that had been underneath it. The handyman was scheduled to come on the morning of January 15 and -- you'll never believe what happened!

HE SHOWED UP. On the right date and at the right time! And then! HE FIXED THE SIDING.
 

IT'S AMAZING.
 

I hired him to replace a rotting board along the outside of the house's extension, between the attic and the first floor. He fixed that too, so this is going great. He's going to come back to do some weather-protection measures on it. I will no doubt hire him for other stuff. I have so much broken house stuff.
 

Gaming
I started playing Civ V again a couple of weeks ago. (No, not Civ VI -- the previous version, from 2010.) I haven't sunk as much time into it as I thought -- a little under 2 hours a day. I think I am mostly playing Civ in lieu of browsing Twitter/Discord/Mastodon, rather than in lieu of actual creative stuff. On the one hand, I haven't been writing since I started playing Civ again. On the other, I finished editing two manuscripts since I started playing Civ, and I hadn't been writing for a month before I started playing again. It's probably not reasonable to blame my slump on Civ.
 

Happiness
There were several grimly depressed days. Lut has TMJ issues, which are not covered by insurance and are expensive, so money stress is back. I am out of cope. which means that any unexpected problem, no matter how trivial, makes me scream and rant with rage and despair.
 

I hate running out of cope.
 

Goal Scorecard
  • Helped Lut
  • Mopped! Twice, even.
  • Did something art-related once a week (I forgot that I made this a goal but I succeeded anyway)
  • Finished edits on The Twilight Etherium and sent to new set of readers
  • Wrote more of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. Technically.
  • Set calorie goal to 1850
 

Goals for coming month
 
 
  • Help Lut
  • Write more of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady
  • Do something art-related once a week. Probably the cover for The Twilight Etherium, this month.

I should probably put a "reach X% complete" down for the writing one but this level of ambition exceeds me. It is what it is.

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studious

Call for First Readers: Spark of Desire

I've finished initial edits on Spark of Desire, the unnecessary polyamorous sequel to Frost and Desire. I suppose I should write a blurb for it.

Six years ago, Spark's lover Komyau volunteered for an experimental process that gave him sorcerous powers -- a process the Convocation of Sorcerers was certain was safe, and went on to use on thousands more individuals in the intervening years. When Komyau becomes gravely ill, Spark contacts Thistle, the individual who invented that process, to save his life.

Spark never expected her lover to fall for Thistle, or that Thistle and his husband, Frost, might be open to a polyamorous relationship. For his part, Frost never realized that his best friend already was polyamorous. But that should not matter: Spark is a centaur and not attracted to elfs like Frost. Right?

But if sorcerers can be mistaken about simple matters like attraction, they can make mistakes with far graver consequences -- and perhaps that experimental process is not so safe as everyone thought ...

This is a four-person partner-swap romance: four characters with two pairings each, two M/F and two M/M. It is extremely fluffy and generally has none of the content warnings of the first book, other than "contains characters who experienced rape in the past and sometimes refer to this experience."

Spark of Desire is a self-contained story and you don't need to have read Frost to enjoy it, although it will probably make more sense if you have. If you'd like to be a first reader, please leave a comment here or on Twitter or Mastodon or wherever with your email address. Comments are screened and your email will not be made public.

Thank you!


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