Home Sweet Home

Just a short posting to note that (for those of you following the office saga) we’re now into our new abode. We have boxes everywhere, and getting into it is a little like an obstacle race (!), but we’re in and by the end of the day things should be back to normal.

Oh, and did I mention this new office has aircon?

Given that we’re essentially moving in on what will be likely to be the hottest day of the year (again), that’s a definite bonus!

If you’re awaiting a writing update, well that will come later in the week – though I’m still not sure when my new regular posting day will be.

These Are Better Days, Baby

And they are – this last week has been much better. I’m still working from home (and will be for another week or so), but I’ve had more to do and I’ve generally felt better about the situation – mostly because it is now, finally, done. We know when we can move into the new office, the lease is all signed and done, our clients now know about the change of address and the story is now well and truly out in the public domain (it was in the local paper), so…yeah.

It still sucks for the folks I know, of course, but unless I were to win tonight’s lottery draw there’s nothing I can do to fix their situation and as my own position shows, this shit does come right by degrees.

So that’s the last of that subject.

Promise.

What also helps is that I’ve had a decently productive creative week as well. A few more building blocks have slotted into place, and while I’m not totally certain that the story unfolding is going to be earth-shatteringly original, I am fairly sure that the characters are engaging.

Well, they’re engaging the heck out of me, at least – and that’s half the battle. Let’s face it: if the writer doesn’t go much on her characters, what hope has a reader got?…!

I’m also working on something to help me nail down all the boring bits of administrivia and world building which is precisely as tedious as it sounds, but it’s also necessary because, at this point, I have notes across three notebooks (paper variety), two computers (ironically, one a notebook!) and in Evernote as well. Nothing’s where I need it when I need it. Thus the tedium of building my own database.

And in amongst this frenzy (for certain values of frenzy!) I haven’t forgotten everything else I’m supposed to be working on. I’m tentatively giving myself until the end of July to finish up with the world building and to have something (or six) ready for posting. We’ll see how that goes.

Working From Home…

Well, we managed the improbable and got virtually* all our stuff out of the building by close of business on Friday. Given subsequent events, I’m relieved to say the least. We’ve also secured a new office (again, pretty good going, given we had three and a half days to do this in!), unfortunately, we don’t get to move in there for a couple of weeks (for a number of reasons), which means that I’m working from home.

And I’m absolutely hating it.

I’m missing seeing people. Granted, when I was working, I didn’t necessarily talk to people, but there were smiles and hellos and the occasional chat while the kettle was boiling in the kitchen.

Here, there’s just the cat and mum – and mum is being very careful not to “disturb me” while I’m working. (The cat isn’t giving a fig on that score – he’s just seeing my presence as translating to an early dinner!)

Again, I know I should be happy to still have a job and everything, but like the whole rest of the sorry mess, it still sucks.

And it doesn’t help that I’m horribly under employed at the moment, which means I’m sitting at my computer with very little work to do, but conscious that, because I’m working from home, I really shouldn’t be messing around.

So there we are. Another self-absorbed whine – though if I can’t whine on my own blog, where can I whine?!

Hopefully next week will have some better news and better content.

Hopefully.

 

*We had to leave the furniture – fortunately, the new office comes with desks and chairs, so that’s less of a bind than it might have been, and we may yet be able to rescue it

 

Of Offices and Jobs

Well this week has been comfortably the worst I’ve known in a while (and given it’s only Wednesday, that’s saying something).

The reason I’m posting on a Wednesday morning, rather than my normal Thursday evening is that, simply, my normal Thursday evenings are no more. I don’t really want to get into the exact circumstances (because that will make me rather more identifiable to the outside world than I’d necessarily like), suffice to say that a number of very good people have lost their jobs and while I’m not one of them, my own job is in a considerable state of flux.

And I know that I should be grateful to still have it (because, see above), but I can’t help feeling a little guilty that I do and my friends don’t.

With Prophecy Skills Like This I Ought To Do The Lottery

Writing done at the weekend: nil – though the family visiting didn’t entirely go to plan I was sufficiently zombified on Saturday (thanks to a dying carbon monoxide detector and an as-it-turned-out unnecessarily early start) it was an utter non-start, and Sunday was the day things did (mostly) go to plan so…

Work this week: quiet to the point where I spent Tuesday being paid for playing Solitaire. Haven’t had a day like that for a while, I can tell you! Unfortunately, with my boss actually being in the office, no writing was accomplished, but I did get some done yesterday and I’ve done a little more today, though none of it’s terribly substantial yet.

Oh, and yes, I’ve done more in the line of world building for my original fiction universe.

Three for three, I think!

So what do I see for the coming week. More of the same, I think – if I’m honest. Again, the work thing is a bit touch and go as to whether I’m going to be overworked or playing solitaire, but having had my day doing solitaire, I should be in a better place to use my spare time more wisely, so if it does come to pass, I will have at least one story finished this time next week. The world building thing will likely continue apace – if nothing else, it’s letting me make good use of my studies of Roman politics (to say nothing of the current political shenanigans that are going on on both sides of the Atlantic) – and it probably means that, for the third year in a row, I’m likely going to be working in this universe for NaNo…though I have plenty of time to think harder about that!

As for whether or not I’ll manage some writing over the weekend…there I’m making no predictions. I don’t have any particular plans, so I guess we’ll see what happens!

Oh and at least the temperature’s dropped. Should make PT a little more livable with in twenty minutes’ time…

 

Melty Melt Melt Melt

Yes, I’m about to do that stereotypical British thing and complain about the weather – but considering this time last week, I was wearing a fleece sweater and wishing I’d brought gloves into the office, and this time this week, I’m sitting here in as few layers as I can without breaching public decency with both windows and the office door open and the fan turned on…I think I’m allowed to have at least a little whine.

And yes, I know I could have it worse – I could have been in the parts of the country that copped for cloud bursts and flash floods or thunder storms. Or I could be in any number of other places in the world who’ve got rather more serious weather issues. I know. I’m lucky. Trouble is, it’s hard to feel lucky when you realise your top is soaked through at the back and the front and is clinging to you in a most unattractive fashion…

I was supposed to be going to the gym this evening, however I know it’s twice as hot downstairs as it is in here (at least I’ve got a tiny bit of a through-draft going!), so I think I’m going to give that a miss tonight and go for a walk instead and enjoy what little breeze is available!

In other news…yeah, there kind of isn’t any other news. I’ve been doing more world building – seems like all I’m capable of doing at the moment! – and I’ve been going back over some of the stuff that I’ve written in the hopes of locating a bit of a spark. No spark found, as such, but I did find myself quite well entertained by some of it. (Even if it’s me that says it, some of what I’ve written isn’t half bad. Of course, some of it is, by definition, semi-polished dog turd, but, y’know, nobody’s perfect!)

There won’t be any writing to speak of this coming weekend (seeing family and playing chauffeur) – but there’ll probably be a bit more world building. (Even if I can’t get a sentence written, by gollyheck will I have a coherent world to be not writing about…) That said there’s a possibility (a small one, granted, but it’s there) that next week might actually be quiet on the work front so the coming week might not be a complete write-off…

 

Of Cats and Computers

I’m not sure which I’m disliking more at the moment – my cat or my computer. Both have, in different ways, annoyed me deeply this week. Since the computer didn’t decide to hork up a hairball at 4:20am this morning (fortunately NOT in the bed this time*), I think the cat may be winning.

On the other hand, every time I turned my computer on it had another round of updates to do which meant that none of what I had planned for last weekend got done.

I can report that there are some decent looking photos in my collection – I’m just not sure how many because the computer kept freezing thanks to Microsoft, AVG and Chrome all deciding to update at the same time…

I’ll have another go at that this weekend – hopefully, things have now finished updating. If not…well let’s just say it’s a good thing I’ve long since discovered the wonders of Baileys and Jack Daniels!

Oh, and just for another piece of icing on a fairly shitty sort of week, my boss is back on vacation**.

*Yes, he has done this in the bed, so he gets points for better aim this time – unfortunately, he loses all those points for doing it pretty much exactly where I was going to have to put my foot…

**Yes, really – my boss really does take a lot of vacation!

A Most Excellent Break

I know I said I’d be posting last week, but, honestly between the travel-induced tiredness* and the con crud, which descended rather unpleasantly, I was actually in bed and asleep before 9pm last Thursday. However, the crud has cleared up and I’m back to normal now.

Well, what passes for normal, at any rate!

That said it was an excellent break, spent catching up with old friends and making some new ones. As the con crud might imply, some of the time was spent at a sci-fi convention, which was a lot of fun, although a bit overwhelming in patches. And slightly disconcerting, at times, given the sheer amount of cosplay. (There’s something very wrong with watching Q and a lady Klingon eating french fries together…)

I didn’t collect any autographs or even, really, any photos of the con guests (my assigned seat was right at the back of the hall – which did at least mean I could discreetly enter and exit), but I did get to hear George Takei, William Shatner and Walter Koenig talk and tell stories which was enormously entertaining. And if they were perhaps the banner guests, the other guests were just as entertaining (just probably not as well known).

Apart from the con, the chief feature of the break was walking. Thanks to my FitBit, I know that we walked somewhere in the region of 15 miles, between visiting the Landshaftspark**, revisiting the zoo and getting to see how things have changed since my last visit. It’s not often you can say “I went on vacation and I lost weight” – but it’s true!

I have a stack of photos from the Landshaftspark and the zoo, so sooner or later (sooner, probably) there’ll be a facebook post to inflictshare the best of the bunch. If there’s any REALLY good ones, there might even be a blog post with them…

The one thing that didn’t really happen (not that I expected it to, to be fair) was writing. I did noodle around a couple of scenes of original fiction (for those keeping track, yes, this was the NaNo universe), and I did do quite a bit of thinking on various projects, but nothing really got committed to the page. Still, it’s a long weekend up-coming, and I think I might just have resolved one of my major stumbling blocks (literally, as I was typing this paragraph!), so I’m thinking this weekend might just be nicely productive.

Here’s hoping, at least!

*it wasn’t jet lag – I was only in Germany! – it was the fact that I had to be up at 6am BST [7am local time] and didn’t get home until nearly 9pm BST, and spent a chunk of the day lugging a large and heavy bag around Köln Hbf and Brussels Zuid, to say nothing of making myself REALLY popular in the London rush hour!

**It used to be a steel works – the works closed sometime in the late 80s (I think) and rather than demolish the whole lot, it was turned into a quite lovely public park. I didn’t get to see the best bit (which is a panoramic view of the park and surrounds – me and high places are very non-mixy things), but the parts that I did see were pretty darn spectacular all the same.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I could insert a whine about how unproductive the long weekend was. I could bitch just that little bit more about the utter failure the client meeting was (short form: it got cancelled, but only after I’d left for it). But you’ve heard a tonne of the former, while the latter got hashed out on Twitter and Facebook at the time.

So instead, I thought I’d do a bit of waffling about books wot I have read and films and tv shows wot I have seen in the last few weeks. I’m not going to do full-on reviews or anything of that kind – I just really want to throw out some recommendations.

  1. The Celts – Alice Roberts
    This is the book that goes with the BBC documentary series she and Neil Oliver did which aired in the latter part of last year, though you don’t have to have seen that to enjoy this, and enjoy it, I have. Non-fiction books can be quite dry, but this has a lovely style to it – I think I read it in less than a week – and it covers some fascinating history and even more fascinating theories. It’s also got a really good list of further reading which, as time (and money) allow, I’m going to be delving into. Just one question: what did the Isle of Man and Manx do to get repeatedly left out of the list of remaining celtic areas/languages?!
  2. Dynasty – Tom Holland
    More history; this time of the classical variety. It’s not as easy to read as The Celts – but that’s more to do with the subject material (reading about Caligula’s Gaius’s excesses is never easy, Nero’s worse and let’s not even mention Tiberius’s activities in Capri!). In so far as a non-fiction book can be a sequel, this is – Tom Holland’s first book was called Rubicon and covered the period of Roman history that led up to Julius Caesar taking control of the Roman Republic. Dynasty, then, deals with what happened next, upto and including the death of Nero. You need a scorecard to keep track of who is married to who (Roman patronims will be the death of me someday, I’m sure), but there are family trees to help out, and it is absolutely fascinating to see that political maneuvering really hasn’t changed much in 2000 years. (Okay, there’s a lot fewer literal executions these days – but there’s still plenty of metaphorical ones!)
  3. Orientalism – Edward Said
    Speaking of dry non-fiction, this book is practically the poster child for it. The first two thirds of it are a slog (and if your academic French is a bit non est, you may struggle with the quotes), but I found the last third was worth the effort because – to me – it really rather highlighted and explained a considerable number of reasons why the situation is what it is in the Middle East. (That said, this is not a book that’s gone onto my re-read pile. As interesting as I found that last third, I routinely used the rest of the book as an insomnia cure!)
  4. Beowulf – Return to the Shieldlands
    Let me get one thing off my chest about this: how is there no storm of complaint that this is a Game of Thrones knockoff?! (I would suspect that, like a lot of fantasy writers, George RR Martin was at least slightly inspired by the original Anglo-Saxon poem, but this is not the poem!) I mean, even the theme music and opening credits are at least “inspired by” the theme/credits for GoT although there’s rather less nudity/sex/violence (mostly because it was broadcast at 7pm on a Sunday evening on free-to-air TV!). Let me get a second thing off my chest: the casting is another thing I’m surprised no-one has commented on. In this case, though, the casting is a good thing. I don’t think I’ve seen a British production with so many non-white cast members in before (which is, when you think about it, a pretty terrible indictment on British productions). There are also vastly more women in this than I was expecting – and they’re not just reduced to minor roles and damsels in distress either. And a third thing: are all the characters in this just screamingly dumb or what?! (And herein lies the real issue with this show.) Some of the characters get away with it by virtue of being young/inexperienced, but how does the well-trained healer not spot the very obvious poisoning case? How does a woman smart enough to be left in charge by her dead husband not realise her brother’s out to get her when he’s being as unsubtle about it as Elliot Cowan’s playing it?! And why for all the love of sweet monkey fritters did no-one suspect the guy with the funny accent and natty beard of not being who he said he was?!! Gosh darn it, he was claiming he’d been held captive for ten days or more and yet he looked like he was freshly bathed and shaved when they found him! (While we’re at it, whose decision was it to give Elliot Cowan that wig? He just looks silly. Oh, and the over use of pleather is rather troubling, too…) All in all, it is quite entertaining – the dialogue is snappy, the fight sequences are good, the locations (all in County Durham/Northumberland) are absolutely stunning and the overarching plot is interesting – it’s just badly let down by the use of the idiot ball. Lastly, am I the only person who thinks Elliot Cowan and Tim McInnerary look really rather similar? It took me three episodes to convince myself that, no, Abrecan was not about to start complaining about lorry loads of paperclips or behave like Lord Percy. (What’s really weird about this is that I didn’t have this problem with Elliot Cowan in Davinci’s Demons – don’t get me wrong; I noticed the resemblance, but Lorenzo Medici was never as outright cartoonish as Abrecan. I think that’s what does it.)
  5. CSI:NY
    Why yes, that would be genre whiplash you’re feeling – sorry! I bought myself the box set of the whole series for an early Christmas present last year and I’ve been steadily doing a rewatch since. I’ve now reached the end of season eight and I can’t help feeling that season eight would have been the perfect place for the show to end. The last episode of s8 is just a perfect ending – it’s almost a shame they got a reprieve and had a ninth season (which is not to say season nine is bad – just that season eight was a better finish). My only other comment (which is possibly tantamount to herasy in the fandom but *shrug*) is: I like Jo better than I like Stella.
  6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
    I need to rewatch this again, but when I’m not arguing with my computer equipment so I can give it the concentration it deserves. That said, it was still really enjoyable even under those distracting circumstances, although I’m not entirely sure I’m exactly sold on Kylo Ren or Poe Dameron – the former just sounds like a teenager in a snit most of the time; the latter comes across as the used-car-salesman C3PO was supposed to be. I’d have been quite happy if the latter had just stayed dead. (Then again, I could just be a bitter Rogue Squadron fan there – and I may also be just a touch miffed that Denis Lawson turned down a cameo role) Have to wait and see what episode VIII brings as far as he’s concerned.

So there you go.

There won’t be a post this time next week because *drumroll* I’m on vacation, but normal service will resume on my return.

Brain Out Of Order – Please Use Stairs

First full week of boss vacation down; one more to go.

My to do list has at least shrunk to manageable proportions (I started the week with over 50 items on it – which is, by definition, not counting the extra stuff that got done but never made it onto the list – and I’ve got that down to just 5 and I’m half way through two of them), but the amount of rank stupidity I’ve been dealing with this week has exhausted my capacity to process stuff and left me at the point of fire bad, tree pretty.

And just to crown my joy, I have a client meeting to attend on Tuesday morning, so I get to have that hanging over me through the long weekend.

Still, it is a long weekend coming up and, apart from a shopping trip to try and locate a corporate-meeting-appropriate skirt (because of COURSE the client I’m going to see would have to be one of the really big scary corporate ones that requires dressing like I’m not actually a computer programmer [never mind the part where that’s kinda actually what I am]), I don’t have anything planned so I should be able to get some writing done. As with the last long weekend, the aim is to finish something.

Anything.

Hell, I’ll even take concluding a paragraph – even that would be progress on some of my stuff at this point!