Slow Duck

The library was closed yesterday, not because the Presidents whose Day it is cared nothing for literacy—they were a bit busy with other things—but because when City Hall is closed, so are we.

The kids were off school but in day camp and my husband had morning classes and afternoon appointments and my MIL was occupied with her own errands, so I had several hours to myself which I’d fully intended to use for writing, or maybe for thinking about writing, or maybe for intending to write but watching the eighth season to Would I Lie To You instead.

Or napping.

But just as I’d sat down and opened up my Odd Duck binder and plugged in my Odd Duck flash drive and opened up a browser window to fire up just one episode of WILTY . . . the screen informed me that I had no Internet access.

It wasn’t the computer—my desktop, tablet and phone all said our home network existed, but something wasn’t producing any of what it’s supposed to produce in order to fulfill its purpose as a source of Internet joy and pleasurably guilt-ridden procrastination.

I went downstairs and hit buttons and turned things on and off and called the provider to listen to a message saying everything was fine on their end, so whatever wasn’t happening was our fault (I’m paraphrasing).

No dice.

Reply HazyI’m one of those writers who is always asking the Universe/Powers that Be/Deity of my Choice/Random Banana Peel Generator/Available Magic Eight Balls for constant signs that I’m not fooling myself with this writing business.

Am I supposed to be a writer? Am I supposed to spend my time plugging away at this particular story? Is this really what I’m meant to be doing when there’s so much more to the world than a keyboard and the inside walls of my own imagination and the television remote has been left unguarded and there are three full cartons—not boxes, cartons—of Girl Scout cookies in the house?

Apparently, today, the sign was clear and the answer a very definite “Yes, you idiot.”Duck!2

So I sighed, sat down, and dove in headfirst.

Four hours later, I had hammered out most of the continuity wrinkles and plot changes and obvious stupidities up to roughly chapter twenty-two and added [NOTES IN BIG, BOLDED BRACKETS] about what scenes and details I’ll need to add to make things make sense, things I need to research to make sure the writers of that half-remembered episode of Law & Order hadn’t fudged their details, and a legal pad of side worries about whether or not I need to get rid of a character or maybe even a subplot.

I also had the shakes, so I stopped for lunch.

Then I dove back in for another hour or two, until I hit a strange place where parts of one chapter and parts of another seemed to mesh well, but not for the book I thought I was writing. The rest did appear to fit the book, but not necessarily with each other on a temporal level.

Or something. Not sure.  It honestly could have been me.

But I’d tipped into the Just Get It Done Now mindset, so I printed both chapters, planning to do some literal cutting and pasting, and also maybe some shredding and directed fireplay, because I was starting to develop mental blocks made of exhaustion and compressed short-term memory loss and when you reach that point, self-righteous shredding and the burning of sage seem perfectly reasonable reactions to plot confusion.

But then the WiFi returned and so did the kids.

I saw that as a sign, too, and knocked off for the day before I did any actual damage.

Probably. I hope.

I’ll have to take a look after work today.

You know, unless the WiFi is working.

House Wifi



Where it’s (going to be) @ (maybe)

Bought my own domain name this morning, shortly after reading yet another terrific post over at Murderati, featuring Madeira James, a website designer who has done gorgeous work for several of my favorite authors, whether traditionally- or self-published.*

She also takes on a few not-yet-published writers as well, which had me thinking.

Despite years of therapy, chocolate, and the encouragement and rear-kicking of friends, I still have a difficult time with the essential immodesty of sharing my wishful thinking optimism—it’s always seemed a little forward/presumptuous/overreaching /fate-tempting to establish a website and a brand and all that before I have anything to show for it, or on it. And since I still have to get Rocinante fitted with a new windshield and the kids fitted with new shoes and school supplies and a hundred other more immediate Life Expenses™, it’s not practical to pay for professional assistance before I have the profession.

But it did seem sensible to reserve the name of my choice, so if/when the time comes, I’m not stuck with**

So, courtesy of GoDaddy, I am the mistress of my own web domain for the next five years.

cute animals - Daily Squee: Creepicute: Raindrop Hat

Since I’ve only held the position for eight hours or so, I’m not really sure where I’m going from here or when—or even if. But five-year plans are supposed to be good and this gives me a concrete goal incentive, like buying a bikini and sticking it on my fridge with magnets, except, you know, realistic.***

And speaking of optimism, I believe I’ll be saving up my pennies to hire Ms. James, if she’ll have me as a client when/if the time comes—her designs are amazing.

What’s the best/worse/weirdest domain name you can think of for yourself?


*Her FAQ page is extremely helpful.

**Which at this posting is still up for grabs, should any of you be tempted

***Any bikini that is intended to keep me out of that particular appliance had better be made of electrified barbed wire and C4 primed with motion sensors. The dishwasher, on the other hand, could easily be defended with three strategic Kleenex and some Scotch tape.

But if we fail to act . . .

I don’t do politics.

Or rather, I don’t do politics here, except for my election year “Go Vote Now or Stop Complaining” pep talks.  This isn’t to say I don’t have some serious views on some serious issues,* just that I prefer this space to hold other things.

But for this, and in light of yesterday’s quote from Dr. King,  I’m making an exception.  We may not make any difference, me and my little blog, but I have to try.

Because if these two acts pass, I might not have a little blog at all.

And neither will you.

So please, hear me out:

The acts in question are the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PIPA). 

SOPA is intended to expand the ability of United States law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in “copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.”

PIPA** would give the United States government and copyright holders “additional tools to curb access” to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the States.

Why would someone who would like to make a little money out of this writing gig someday be opposed to something that opposes online piracy?   Why would a librarian prefer theft to copyright law?

I’m not.  And I don’t.

BUT. . . if these laws pass, the Internet, flawed as it is, is over.

No more clips.

No more quotes.

No more book reviews.

No more embedded sharing.

No more YouTube.

No more links. 

See that last one? That’s the kicker, right there.

What is the Internet?  It’s content, right?  Good, bad, indifferent, skeevy, putrid, lovely, fascinating, valid, bullpoop, whatever, it’s all content.

And how is all that individual content connected?  How is the WWWeb woven?

Links.  Right.

Here’s my understanding of the kind of thing that could happen if these acts pass, and, yes, I’m making it personal:

One day, I’ll post a link to a poetry site that contains thousands of poems because I want you to read a verse that I don’t have permission to copy and I don’t want my blog shut down or rendered invisible to search engines—and I sure don’t want to be fined or jailed.  So I’m really, really careful.***

But say that site contains one poem out of thousands  that they don’t have permission to use. I didn’t catch that one, or even see it, because I may like reading poems, but assessing thousands of them for permissions is a major job.

And the poet or someone in the government finds out and decides to file an injunction against that site, which is shut down or rendered invisible to search engines, and the owner, who is fined and/or jailed.

Depending on the wording of that injunction and whatever lawsuit(s) might be brought—and even though I never even heard of that one pirated poem or landed on its page—I could be charged with copyright infringement or promoting infringement.

Shut down, rendered invisible, fined or jailed.

Eventually, no one will be able to link to any source outside their own content for fear of the possible consequences.

Internet over.

And International connections could be lost the same way—no more visiting the London Museum online, no more international research, no more non-government-approved international distress calls answered. 

And just to make this part personal:  no more reading the blogs of—or having our blogs read by—our non-US-IP using friends, who will be the only ones using links anyway.  Goodbye Downith, Nina, Bobbi, Sarah P., Siobhan, Marie, Gary, Zoë . . .

This is the equivalent of killing a hornets’ nest with a nuke.

Better explanations are here.

And here.

And especially here.

Wikipedia, Boing Boing, and several other sites and blogs are shutting down from Midnight to Midnight tomorrow, January 18th, a protest coordinated by

So you’d better read the above links now, or you might have to wait until Thursday.

In solidarity and support, there will be no new post on my little blog between Midnight and Midnight tomorrow.

If you’re a US reader,  I encourage you to use the small amount of time you might have used reading Poetry Wednesday and write to your congressperson to tell them that stronger measures may or may not be needed to curtail copyright theft—but these aren’t it.

Thank you for letting me rant—I hope to be allowed to do so for many years to come.


*Most of which seem more like flippin’ no-brainers than ‘issues’ to me, but everybody feels that way, no matter what side they’re on, right?

**Which is a rewrite of the proposed Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which was killed in Congress.

***Not that I’m not careful now, but I’m not paranoid about it and if there were complaints, I’d comply with a reasonable request from appropriate channels to fix the situation.

Random Thursday: technology, tachyons, and text files


funny pictures - I tried being reasonable.

Because of the narrow and elusive nature of  Windows of Repairperson Opportunity (WRO), my husband and MIL and I have designed a complicated choreography of overlapping schedules to ensure that someone is home to answer the door between eight a.m. and noon tomorrow morning and that my MIL will not have to answer any questions that the repairperson might ask beyond confirmation of our address.

I cancelled an early appointment, just to make sure.

Said repairperson had better show.  With the right connector.  And the knowledge to replace it.

Or else.




Getting my nerd on:

The bartender says, “We don’t serve faster that light particles in here.”

A tachyon walks into a bar.

Apparently, during the course of an ongoing (since 2006) experiment called OPERA, in which a stream of muon neutrinos are beamed from the CERN Super Proton Synchrotron in Geneva to a lab in Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain  in 2.4 milliseconds for a very important reason I wouldn’t be able to understand if you paid me, the OPERA physicists have discovered that a small percentage of the 10-to-the18th-power neutrinos they’ve sent over the years have arrived about 60 nanoseconds sooner than they should have.

They don’t know why this is happening.  Nothing seems to account for it, not equipment calibration or human error or mistaken identity.  But it’s enough for the word tachyon to have been rumored to have been mentioned in a whisper. Maybe.

In physics, this is apparently the same thing as shouting on a viral YouTube video, because one of the more questionable pundits to whom our newspaper gives editorial space wrote a quarter page worth of disapproval of the possibility a few days ago.

But I can’t blame people for running with the idea and it’s easy to join in the excitement—obviously.

According to someone who actually knows what he’s talking about, the only papers that have been published on tachyons are about how impossible they are.  And if tachyons are proved to exist, physics as we know it* will implode (or explode), because Einstein—on whose work modern physics rests—said that nothing can travel faster than light.  Not never, not nohow.  The mass of an object approaching the speed of light will reach a state where it cannot be moved by the available energy and time stops and even science fiction writers start to look around for a Deus Ex Machina to get their starfleets off the ground.**

Except maybe, you know, not.

This has some physicists worried.***  And when people who are in charge of understanding how the universe is supposed to work get worried, that’s sort of fundamentally worrisome, isn’t it?

Science is supposed to explain things so we know where we stand.  But if the whole of our current knowledge of the universe is  like a flashlight, illuminating only the smallest portion of what’s out there—what happens when the batteries won’t work anymore?  I mean, the universe will still operate the way it always has . . . right?  Isn’t there some kind of clause that an observed object will be changed simply by being observed?  So what if it’s observed . . .  differently?

But I’m not worried about the possible revocation of the laws of physics for three reasons:

1)  I’ve been reassured that the law of gravity will operate as usual, regardless of the outcome.

2)  Future seasons of The Big Bang Theory are going to rock.

3)  Three words:  Tachyon.  Engines.  Dude.

It’s going to be difficult to get independent verification of whatever these speedy neutrinos mean, since not everyone has the equipment to hurtle matter through a mountain without making something of a mess.^^

But it should be a wild ride.


Today, one of my favorite authors, Jeff Somers, called me both old and stupid—indirectly—and made me like it:

Where do you store all your old stuff?


* Or don’t know it, in my case, but that’s never stopped me before.

**I might be paraphrasing that last bit.

*** Although one would think that starting over from scratch would mean serious job security.  Unless there are discredited tachyon scientists just waiting to leap out and say, “Ah HA!!  Who gets the office with the window and the retractable whiteboards, now, sonnyThey thought me mad!  BWAHahahahahahahahaha!”

^ Show of hands—who just thought, potato cannon ?  Be honest.

We are experiencing technical difficulties and severe webdrawl symptoms–please stand by and send chocolate

Or, rather, a small connector outside our house has expired and needs to be replaced.

It was more of a shock that it probably should have been, to come home last night and be told that there would be no way to go online  until Friday.


I actually think my hands began to shake and I know I checked more than once* to make sure that little connector wouldn’t fire up just one more time, for mama.  And to see if there were any free WiFi signals floating about the neighborhood.  But Panera Bread and the library are out of reach, and all my neighbors are far too security-minded.  Drat them.

Once I settled down, I tried to see this as a sort of an involuntary Freedom program—and I did manage about 800 words before bedtime.  So there’s that.

Still sucks though.  And I can feel the webdrawl spiders making my thumbs twitch . . .

The company says they’ll get to us earlier if they can.  Meanwhile, I’ll be doing my best to keep up on my work breaks, but please forgive my sporadic posts and comments.


*With the desperation of a starving lab rat hitting a feeder bar.