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Alas, it is Caturday. I have had a productive day. I got most of the housework done. Things like cat boxes and bird cages and whatnot. I'm sitting here realizing that I've only got five days left of my break. It doesn't seem like long enough. At the same time, I was actually glad to have some stuff to do today. It gave my day a little more structure than what I've had the past few days.

That's the thing with this big Christmas/New Years break - The first half of it is so busy with last-minute Christmas prep, and then...nothing. I had hoped this would give me some extra time for reading and writing, but I was so exhausted from...everything...afterwards that I just plain didn't have the mental energy needed for jumping into writing. I'm just about back to my normal level of reading, though.

I'm working on closing out files for 2013 and starting files for 2014. I sincerely hope 2014 is a better year. Granted, 2013 was off to a rough start, largely with the problems at work and with the car needing a transmission overhaul. And no one's said boo to me at work since March, and the car is doing well with new tires and the new blower motor. In 2014, I need to get the windshield replaced, and then it'll be due for inspection at the end of the summer. Joy. Between now and then, I'm hoping to maybe at least patch the hole with something. Doct tape, maybe. And continue to use that rust inhibitor and maybe get some spray-on car paint to deal with some of the worst rust blemishes and see if that doesn't improve the appearance enough that the State inspectors won't actively try to fail it again this year.

Financially, I'm about where I was a year ago. Maybe a little bit better, since what I still owe Gary for the tires is less than what I owed him for the engine at this point a year ago. The only other roblem with the car I see in the immediate future is needing to replace the power window motors. The one on the passenger side has been dead for over a year, but I don't think I need it to pass inspection. The one on the driver's side still works, and I need it to work in general, what with needing to put it up and down every time I park my car in the garage on campus. Fortunately, it's only a $200-$300 repair, if need be.

I'm also hoping to be able to see my optmetrist and get contact lenses again.

Oh, and I'll still need to get money set aside for Minerva and her $600 dental work that she needs.

In other news... I've noticed my sleep has been better this break. Usually, I fall into a habit of staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning during the break and sleeping in until noon. This year, I've been waking up around nine or so and going to bed at my "normal" time. I'm thinking the androderm patches are having some luck in regulating my sleep/wake cycle a bit better. My energy is a little better, though my back is still giving me problems. I'm not devouring Christmas cookies like I was at the beginning of the break. I don't think I've gained more than a pound. With the energy level being a little better, I'm getting antsy. Thing is, I have so many little, organizational projects, my biggest problem is picking a place to start and just...starting. I'm not yet freaking out over the fact that my break is more than half over, but, depending on what I get done in the next day or so will determine how much I freak out on Wednesday.

I'm also trying to finish up a few books before the end of the year. Especially Neal Stephenson's Anathem. I liked he beginning of it, and I'm liking the end of it. The middle kind of lost me in a few places, but things started making sense at the end. Next up is Reamde, by the same author. Stephenson tends to write near 1000 page tomes, and part of wanting to get through these books is the fact that they're heavy to carry around. I mean, I got Reamde about a month before I got my Kindle. Anything else he writes will go on the Kindle.

Did I mention how I wrote about 17k words from early October through mid-December? I...haven't written that much in a long, long time. But now, I need to work on outlines, which is maybe a little harder to measure than actually writing a story, since word count is useless (for me, anyway) and I'm looking more at how many scenes I map out. But I'm still fleshing out settings and such. I've also found some security in giving myself "permission" to sketch physical scenes, such as rooms, to help myself better visualize elements of a story. And then I'll go ahead and describe those scenes. Because I don't think any of you wants to be subjected to my drawing tragedies.

Looking ahead... I'm hoping I'll at least continue dancing regularly in 2014. Part of me is tempted to start taking lessons again as soon as I pay off Gary, but, responsibility sets in, and I'll likely use that money to pay off other debts and to save for any other emergencies. I'm hoping I can get into a routine or, maybe more accurately, a rhythm with regards to outlining/mapping stories.

Oh, and a big THANK YOU to everyone who actually took the time to read "Terminator:East" and "Christmas Spirit" and comment on them. Such commenting boosts my morale and encourages me to keep writing.

On a final note... I watched the Original Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind" today with Rocky and Yoda. It's about as close to a Star Trek Christmas episode as we get. And maybe I should be...concerned...that Rocky and Yoda had their own running commentary as we were watching it.

More later...

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] sir_cat, [personal profile] oxymoron67, AND [personal profile] klingonguy!!!

So... High-speed, low-budget post...

I slept in all of fifteen minutes this morning, since Rocky wanted food and insulin, Yoda wanted food, and Brigid and Brandon needed to go out and go potty. Oh well. Though, I've been napping on and off all day...

That's not to say I haven't been at least somewhat productive. I've gotten a start on laundry. I cleaned my bathroom. I've watered the plants. I've gotten other odds and ends done. I'm mid-way though taking care of the cat boxes and trash, but, I'm slowly whacking back my to-do list for the weekend. My goal is to have next to nothing to worry about for Monday. And the less I have to worry about for tomorrow, the better.

Not much else. Rocky is happy it's the weekend and has been following me around most of the time. He, Yoda, and I watched the series finale for Star Trek: The Next Generation, "All Good Things..." Now, I have finally seen all of the TNG episodes. Yes, there were a few that I never saw because I had set the VCR to tape them, only to have a hockey game or somesuch pre-empt them. Actually, that's why I stopped watching Voyager in the seventh season... It was never on when it was supposed to be, so, setting the VCR was useless. I'll eventually get Voyager (and DS9 and the enhanced Original Series [I have the regular Original Series on DVD]) on DVD.

To top it off, the last year of TNG was my senior year of high school, so, I was also a bit busy with graduating and getting ready for college. In fact, the original air date of "All Good Things..." was my high school graduation night. And I just never...watched the beginning of the episode. But now, I have seen the TNG run in its entirety. That last episode was like some sort of warped Christmas Carol as well. I mean, it starts and ends with Picard demanding to know the date. And he's visited by the past, the present, and the future.

Thing is, and thanks to all the wonderful Trek authors, I had a hard time watching "All Good Things..." as an end to TNG. Leaving aside the movies, the fact is that the books have done a more than adequate job in continuing the TNG story/saga. (Not to mention, DS9 and Voyager, too.)

Not much else. So, back to work, I suppose...

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] dungeonwriter, [profile] brainlesswonder, AND [profile] hmpinky!!

So, weird dream last night where some teenagers stole my car for a chop shop, and the local teen heroes were total douchebags about it. But my car was saved from the chop shop and returned to me by the A Team, because they had a soft spot for cars from the 1980s.

Rocky is behind me, snoring. Every time I fart, I figure I'm giving him a Dutch Toaster Oven.

So, with regards to JJ Abrams and Star Trek and Star Wars... I understand I'm in the minority in Not Liking Abrams, much less the stuff he did with Star Trek. An alternate timeline, I can handle. I can even accept some changes in Trek technology, or even "Treknology," as it were, but total disregard of physics (building a starship on a planetary surface, besides being rather unsafe, is too difficult for 22nd-23rd technology; transporters with no range limit; red matter; Spock, who was all about preserving original timelines as far back as "The City on the Edge of Forever" deciding to alter/interfere with his own past, alternate timeline or no...) It's just...too much. I think good storytelling was sacrificed for the eye candy that makes the masses happy. And I think Star Wars now has the same problem looming ahead. Or, actually, more of the same problem; I think this is what tripped Lucas up with the prequels. I think this is what tripped up Ron Moore in the last half of BSG. I think this is what tripped up Abrams with Lost.

Maybe I read too much. I've read too much of James Luceno, David Mack, Dayton Ward, Peter David, Keith DeCandido, Michael Stackpole, Allan Allston, Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, Timothy Zahn, and others... Others who have taken some of the crappy things from movies and turned them into halfway arcs in novel form. They tell a story and shock people with the quality of the story itself, the ability to transport us to another time and space, and make us forget about believability, rather than using Michael Bay-esque explosions and M. Shyamalan-esque twists. We have the frugal deaths warned against in Scalzi's Redshirts.

Unfortunately, this is what the masses want. Because no one has the time or patience to sit down and read a book. Even if they can do so on their phone.

Interestingly, some of the above can be said of the late 90s debacle known as Batman and Robin. Maybe Joel Schumacker was simply before his time...

If people like the new Trek and such, hey, glad you enjoyed it. But when you start saying it's the best thing ever or better than what came before? I'll need to beat you with my empty wrapping paper tube lightsaber. I will then throw bound pieces of paper at you as I throw the Vanguard series at you, or James Luceno's Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, or even Steve Perry and Michael Reeve's Death Star. No, no, these things are books. You might want to look into them...

Hi, my name is David, and I'm a tie-in bibliophile. As well as regular bibliophile. And comicphile (really glad Gail Simone is sticking around for Batgirl, and I hope they keep Geoff Johns for Green Lantern).

I guess, having read enough, I have a different standard by which I judge a story to be good or not. I mean, it's all subjective anyway. I guess I just get tired of people looking at me funny and saying, "You don't like the new Star Trek? What is wrong with you?"

Then again, these people can understand the problems I had with I, Robot and why I've no interest in seeing World War Z. Sorry, folks, but Susan Calvin was an older, asexual scientist, not a young cute thing that would wet her panties at the sight of Wil Smith. Furthermore, the movie had nothing to do with the novel, aside from Robots based on Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, and in fact was originally under a different title until the producer, at the last moment, trying to capitalize on Asimov's name, changed the title at the last minute. Likewise, World War Z is not a single narrative. You want to film it? Make it a miniseries. Kind of like Tom Hanks and HBO with the From the Earth to the Moon series.

Of course, this is all just my $0.02, which is worth less than even that. Your mileage may vary. Just...stop treating me like a freak when I say, "Actually, I don't like Abrams' Trek and don't plan to spend money I don't have on World War Z and so on.


Comics )
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As posted on Facebook...

[profile] infinitydog, [profile] daytonward, and Kevin Dilmore did with Star Trek: Vanguard what, in my opinion, J.J. Abrams' reboot failed to do: Bring in new adventures in the Original Series Trek era without mucking up continuity. Unlike the Abrams reboot, they did not need to create an alternate Universe as a cop-out to avoiding continuity, they did not piss on "treknology" (my biggest gripe with Abrams' reboot), and the eye candy was all in the readers' minds with top-notch wordsmithing and eloquence. Though, Doug Drexler's CGI covers did indeed inspire some very good visual aids, allowing an exception on the old "you can't judge a book by its cover" rule. The characters are as real and developed as the original Trek characters, yet the series has a darker, grittier, more visceral (and less clich├ęd) tone, with TONS of the social commentary Trek is known for, presenting conflicts that make the reader truly think about things. I highly recommend these books to any Trek fan as well as to any science fiction fan who may not have previously been a fan of Star Trek.

I've just barely started reading the last book in the series, Storming Heaven, so I can't yet say that it has a satisfying ending. Yes, David Mack has a penchant for killing off characters and radically altering the Trek universe in general, as evidenced in his equally well-written Destiny trilogy, however, since he has to line things up with original series continuity, he can only do so much. And there are only two characters who are "safe," since they're meeting a few years after the end of the series, so, we know they, at least, survive.

I know most fans think the Abrams' reboot is a wonderful thing. While I'm not going to sit here and rail on how I really didn't care for it, on how Abrams may have created an alternate timeline to cover his lack of respect for the established canon of the property, yet has completely ignored any of the technological principles established, such as limitless transporter range and why starships are built in space, or Spock severely pissing on any kind of temporal directives, I'll settle for saying that others are free to enjoy Abrams' reboot, but I could take it or leave it, preferably leaving it.

Vanguard, while having Kirk and others more as "guest stars," still puts Trek back on the map. Rockne O'Bannon, when creating Farscape, wanted something that was antithetical to Star Trek, and thus we got limited technobabble with Crichton at one point saying, "Einstein, Newton, Hawking... We prove them wrong every time we pop out for groceries. I can't explain it, I just use it." We had a ship without a captain for a little more than half the series. We had escaped prisoners instead of military-trained professionals. Then we got Ron Moore's re-imaging of Battlestar Galactica, which was initially awesome, with it's social messages for a post-9/11 America and easily recognizable, morally ambiguous characters. Now, Next Gen and DS9 slowly crossed that threshold from "lite sci-fi" to "getting a little darker," especially when DS9 dealt with the Dominion War. But Ron Moore, who also worked on DS9 with Ira Steven Behr, succeeded, at least initially, with his BSG reboot. Now, we have "reboot craze" where everyone tries to take stuff from the past and "modernize it and do it right." Most of the time, this is failing horribly (lookin' at Michael Bay, his extrasplodey Transformers and his alien turtles...). Hell, even Moore managed to screw up BSG. Like he just stopped even trying in the third season, and rather than tell a good story, he went for shock and awe. I think that's what Abrams did in his Trek reboot as well, and while that may appeal to the masses, I think I'd rather have a good story.

That is why Mack, Ward, Dilmore, Michael Martin, Andy Mangels, Kirsten Beyer, William Bennett, Geoffrey Thorne, and all the others whom I may not remember off the top of my head, have succeeded in constantly reinventing Trek without losing any of Roddenberry's core values for the property. Characters face dilemmas, ambiguous situations, and they grow, and we grow a little bit with them. The Vanguard series, as well as Titan, Typhon Pact, and the marvelous job Kirsten Beyer has done with Voyager (making it, in my opinion, better than what we ever saw on screen), has all kept Trek alive and well, keeping the characters relevant and the speculations going. If a character dies, then the death had a purpose, if only to show that there are casualties and not everyone makes it out alive.

What's more... When disaster strikes, as it often does with Mr. Mack, we don't see the frantic soldier, screaming and cursing, and just feel nothing but shock. Instead, we see a soldier, swearing like a sailor, but actually retaining some sort of professionalism. He sees who else is still with him, prioritizes his group's objectives, and then works with others to survive. There's an optimism there that, even though shit happened and people made mistakes, we still see these characters trying to do the right thing, not giving up, analyzing a problem, and working to solve it until the bitter end. In short, we get heroes not because they're overly talented and save the day, but because at the end, they try to do the right thing, despite obstacles, and even if one of those obstacles is himself.

Thanks, guys. Keep up the good work, and though Vanguard has ended, I hope you'll all continue to expand the Trek universe.

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HAPPY BELATED BIRFDAY[profile] thumpermarni!!!

HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] lurkitty, [profile] layered_deep, [profile] jonbonjewvi, AND [personal profile] berthablue!!!


Anyway, it's been a busy weekend. Mandie's birfday get-together last night was nice. Good food and all. I'm grateful my sister and I are getting along much better these days. Between last night and today, I've been productive, what with laundry, lunch prep for the week, figuring things out, and so on. I think I know how to rearrange my computer area for better computer spill protection. Ultimately, it may also lead to a more spacious and comfortable work area.

Today (yesterday, actually), I put up what little of the outdoor lights we have and brought up the Christmas decorations. The outdoor lights are set up, but not plugged in. If we want to expand, that's great. But the initial bulk, such as it is, is done, and if it's dark and snowing and freezing, it's just a matter of pulling off the plastic bag and plugging in the setup. And the rest of the stuff is up, so, hopefully, with working on just a little bit here, a little bit there, I can actually enjoy the Christmas season rather than throwing everything up at the last minute, as has been the case for about the last decade. It would be nice to have the tree up and decorated for a week before Christmas and actually enjoy the lights and such.

Alas, my back is quite sore at the moment, though. Fortunately, I have a chiro appointment at the end of the week.

Got LOTS of reading done, too. I'm hoping to get my reading projects down to something a little more manageable. But I have lots of good books that have been on my shelves for a decade, plus trying to get some of the current/contemporary stuff read, plus all the stuff I've already bought for Kindle, plus holiday reading. I'm almost done Jim Butcher's Ghost Story (Dresden Files), and... It's great! I actually gave my sister the first three books of the series for her birfday and hope my anticipation of her enjoying the series, too, is on the mark. I love the pop cult references throughout, especially the Star Wars references. And the Princess Bride reference in Ghost Story was...great! I really hope Mr. Butcher plans more for this series...

I'm also reading Christopher L. Bennett's Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within. It's an e-novella, and it came out last month, but... Some of the stuff with the Unificationists and non-violent protests on the Kinshaya homeworld... Wow! This was written, I'm fairly certain, before the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the parallels aren't perfect, but, can we say, "socially relevant?" I'm only on chapter four, but, given the clashes between police and such, and the scene I just read in the story, I can't help but wonder if police presence and indeed police brutality are intentional to rouse the protesters to where they have to choose between well-being and self-defense, or defending the elderly or handicapped who may be being beaten, in order to make the non-violent civil disobedience into violent rebellion, which then allows the State to 1) use violent and eventually deadly force against protesters and 2) discourage assembly to protest with the excuse that it turns violent and hence turning free speech into something that is a danger to public safety, allowing an argument to exist that the right of peaceable assembly is not safe for democracy. Flawed, I know, and I'm perhaps expressing this inadequately and clumsily, but, something worth thinking about. And this bit (along with wishing my sister natal day felicitations) is why this entry is in the clear and hence able to show up on Networked Blogs on Facebook.

I still need to write my essay on Paine's "Common Sense" and applying it to events going on these days as I see it. I have my notes (thank gods), and when I glance at them, I can remember rather clearly what I intend to write about.

Of course, your mileage may vary (YMMV), and that's okay. If there's anything erupting here or on FB, just...keep it civil, no personal attacks, and agree to disagree.

Back to Mandie's birfday gathering... I have to say, I have party animals here. By that, I mean that TomTom was happy to see my sister and was very present throughout the evening, even settling down next to her while she opened presents and such. He seems to really like it when she visits. Rocky, of course, gets attention from everyone and has a tendency to try to beg food from Scott. And Yoda? Before dinner, he was acting up, so, he ended up in Time Out (cage covered, TV and lights off). Note: avians tend to be quiet when in the dark, thus not giving away their position to predators. Both with the Grey we had before, Nemo, and with the one we have now, Yoda, well, we have to throw that one out the window. While eating dinner, and later, while chatting in the living room, Yoda insisted on being part of the group, even though he was in Time Out in another room, by interjecting into conversations, making noises we had referred to, laughing, and so on. Like Nemo, Yoda gives very situationally-appropriate responses.

And people wonder why I'm unsurprised at animal intelligence. Fascinated, but unsurprised.

Anyway, time for a shower and then bed. I'm hoping my computer will be done tomorrow and I can get it back here and back up and running. That is, done later today. Whatever.

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So...whilst consuming brunch, Yoda and I watched the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Unnatural Selection" (a second season episode)...

Couple of things...

When they're approaching the Lantree (I think the ship used to be Shite-hoose), it looks like someone left their copy of the script on the arm of the captain's chair. I'll wait while you all run to your DVD collections and pull out the episode and check...

Next, when Riker and Data are looking for a sample of Dr. Pulaski's DNA... Okay, I can understand the need to override the lock on someone's quarters and start looking for something with their DNA on it. Still, their initial search seems...confused. What the hell is Data looking for on the floor and under the desk? Panties? Used condom? What??? Then he and Riker head to Pulaski's bathroom, and start going through her drawers (that can be taken so many ways, all of them bad), though Riker seems to be handling things like he would at a panty raid back at the Academy. Tucked in the back of one of the drawers is Pulaski's hairbrush.

Okay, how many people keep their hair brush tucked away in the back of a drawer? Other than bald people, I mean? Most people have aforementioned brush either on the sink or on their dresser. Did Pulaski get up that morning, say to herself, "I might find myself with my genetic code being rewritten so that I age more rapidly than a so-so top 40 song overplayed on the radio... To be a pain in the ass, let me hide my hair brush in a back drawer just so I know someone has to fondle my unmentionables to get to it..."

Lastly... Chief O'Brien. It's just about now that he (1) has a name and (2) people are noticing he's been in a few episodes and slowly becoming a recurring character. When they're using the transporter to restore Pulaski's DNA, the procedure seems to be not working at first. Picard is ready to say, "too bad, so sad, bye bye..." and, since reverse transport isn't possible, leave Pulaski as dispersed energy in space, but O'Brien interjects, does some transporter magic on the secondary, medical scan station, and presto-change-o! Pulaski is back to her middle-aged self! She hugs Picard, shakes Data's and Geordi's hands, and barely affords O'Brien a glance.


Seriously... O'Brien at that point could have put on an old-series red shirt and said, "Beam me down to the next planet with violent inhabitants. I think I'll get better treatment as a martyred corpse."
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January 2015


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