Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Keeping on Target

A fellow local writer once commented that I always seem to stay directly on track during November’s National Novel Writing Month. I tend to do the same in April and July during Camp NaNo since undertaking them.

And that is despite going for broke and setting the more flexible ‘camp’ bar high as November’s fifty thousand words. Below, you can see for yourself my progress.

Each Day I Follow What My Heart Wants to Write
In part I can think early retirement, as I don’t have to spend eight plus hours at a daily desk job. Besides my two aging cats, two tropical fish tanks, and (usually) self entertaining spouse, there are few demands upon me of any sort.

But I am happy to admit that I have met the challenge every time since first joining NaNoWriMo, even while still employed outside the home. Even better, I can say that true fun and joy of writing are my motivations.

On that note, I need to put down the laptop and gather SO for a trip to the grocery store. At least the sun is shining bright for the first time in days, so it will feel good to step outside.

How is your weather today?


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tips and Tricks for Safe Internet Usage (and a Rant)

My spouse spent nearly four hours at the neighbor’s house on Sunday because the guy downloads software without thought that it might carry malicious software. About once a year he gunks up his operating system. This one is so egregious that SO is back over there this morning because the problems persist.

(meanwhile, I can’t get SO to put out a clean water bowl for the cats)

I urge you not to accept ‘free’ software from just any source. And run scans on your computer on a regular basis. This household recommends SpywareBlaster, Malwarebytes, AVG AntiVirus, Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer, and CCleaner, all of which offer lower grade versions without a subscription fee.
Partial Screen Shot of My Machine's Desktop
Notice the all important Scrivener and MS Word at top left. Upper and bottom most right icons link to inspirational photos. Thats how I spend most of my research time. ~grin~ And keeping the protective software icons nearby makes sure I dont forget about them.

Each scan takes some time, but at least once a month I try to check for software updates and run them. Perhaps if we paid for upgrading one or two of these systems we wouldn’t need all of them, but our limited income makes the extra effort worthwhile. So I follow my in-house expert’s frugal advice.

Be aware that CCleaner will delete all your remembered sign-ons and passwords. Since that creates an extra hassle, I run that one least of all. And one thing I dislike about Malwarebytes is that the latest update upgraded me to an unsolicited ‘free trial’ which I can opt to purchase in a few weeks.

Guess what
is not going to happen?

New pop up notifications from Malwarebytes are the biggest drawback, a distraction this writer does not appreciate. It was too time intensive trying to figure out how to revert to the original version and I didn’t want to bother SO (unlike our freeloading neighbor). Again, I would rather write.

But I fixed that irritant. This morning I turned off notifications in the Malwarebytes settings just as I had done with every other one of these products. The software creators don’t like that and will try to pretend you’re lowering the effectiveness. Don’t believe them.

Have you ever gotten a nasty computer virus?


Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Rainbow Snippet for April 21st and 22nd

This weekend’s RainbowSnippets showcases a little adult humor. At
least I hope it’s funny. But if literary reference to intimacy makes you
uncomfortable you will probably want to stop reading here. It's not
my intent to upset or offend.

For back story, you need know one shape-shifter has lost her mind
under the animal id in the midst of ill-fated sexual power exchange.
While she retains humanoid thinking and shape, her surroundings
make no sense. And in her mind, her baffled lover has become her
assumed enemy.


I hobbled about searching for some suitable missile. My pathetic
nemesis followed at a safe distance, still chattering in a pointless way,
waving outspread arms.

Among so much human made garbage I discovered a smooth garish
club standing on end. Testing its heft I found the lined grip a little
narrow. Somehow those grooves spun and the thing awakened with a
rattle. To keep it from shaking free I tightened my hold.


Do you know what she picked up? I hope you enjoyed and will check out the Rainbow Snippets Facebook page for a plethora of compelling vignettes.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Darla’s Discoveries – Embracing Reality & Saving Time, and Breath

No person can truly know another’s thoughts. And I have learned that my spouse could not think much less like me, who forever mulls over stupid things SO wouldn’t consider for a moment.

I am trying to be more like that and obsess less over trivia, wanting to reduce the time thinking about pointless issues. The same goes for talking about them.

Take my realization that my everyday toiletries and skin care products no longer need be on the medicine cabinet’s top shelf. Duh… I’m the short one. While SO has taken to keeping daily medications in a desk drawer for some reason, infrequently used stuff took their place. Moving items seldom used up and the aforementioned stuff brought down has made my mornings that much easier.

A younger me would have made a point of mentioning the decision. But these days I know that SO is not likely to notice, let alone care about the changes. So I kept my mouth shut, saving those precious minutes for talking about our shared interests instead.

Meanwhile, as I typed this last night we were preparing to view another live streamed SpaceX launch. We both geek out over each event.

Are there any little realizations that make your life simpler, whether in dealing with a loved one or how you arrange your living space?


Monday, April 16, 2018

It’s Hummingbird Season!

In my part of the United States, we get one type of hummingbird during summer migration. These ruby throated flying jewels are a joy to behold. I put out my feeder last Friday hoping they will start coming around, if only on their way to more northern climes.
Wish I Could Take Credit for this Image
So today I decided to share a few tips about feeding hummingbirds. No doubt many interested folks already know these, but educating one person is worth the effort.

First, you don’t need to buy expensive hummingbird food. And the fluid doesn’t need to be dyed red. Most feeders take care of that.

Simply mix four parts bottled or filtered water with one part table (white processed) sugar. Do not, under any circumstances, use powdered sugar as it often contains a small amount of anti-caking agent. That is not any better for a tiny bird than the chlorine in my tap water.

I don’t think I need tell anyone not to use artificial sweetener. ~grin~ These flyers need lots of calories.

As for the type of feeder, I prefer the ones with a central water reservoir to deter ants. As shown below, it is also easy to clean. The entire red top with perch lifts off the clear round bottom portion. And the hook unscrews, so the top and bottom units can go into the dishwasher at the end of the season.

Like Many Bird Species, Females and Juveniles Lack the Bright Coloration
And cleanliness is important. You don’t want mold growing on the sugar. And don’t be like me and let the sugar water dry up. ~shakes head~ Check the feeder every three to five days, more often in hot weather, and use a tiny bristle brush for scouring the four feeder ports.

If insects gross you out, be warned that you will find determined critters have made their way down into the ports. I almost always discover little drowned bugs or see them bedraggled and floundering. Never having been bitten or stung in the process, with a gentle pour over the nearby grass I always hope survivors recover.

Meanwhile, I like to mix up a good sized batch of ‘nectar’ and keep it in my refrigerator between fillings. Four cups water and a cup of sugar goes a long way. Oh, and you don’t need to heat the water. Sugar granules dissolve just fine with simple stirring of even the coldest fluid. If you do make it ahead of time, just give a quick stir before pouring out another serving.

Attracting them has been easy for me. There are all kinds of annual and perennial plants that help with this; I’ll let you look them up for your region if interested. And while these birds are territorial, I often get to enjoy their acrobatic aerial confrontations. You can imagine just how adorable I found a nest one autumn. Too bad I missed the hatchlings and nobody returned to that spot since.
Amazing Photography, No?
You can actually sit or stand quite close to the feeder, too, if you’re patient and still. Some folks manage to get them to land on a hat or sleeve. There are even feeder ‘hats’ you can wear.

As for me, I found their buzzing by my head startled me, as I’m usually writing or reading if I sit outside, so my shepherd’s pole supporting the feeder is about ten feet from my patio chair. And believe me, I still hear them buzzing in for a landing to enjoy their presence.

Did you know hummingbirds catch insects while in flight for protein? The potential for them catching mosquitoes is just one more reason to adore them.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rainbow Snippet April 14th and 15th

This weekend’s RainbowSnippets installment features a character in the throes of a nightmare. I hope my words convey his despair and his partner’s helpless witness.


The bleating of a wounded lamb woke me. Bolting upright, I looked
to my side.

Nickolas continued to drowse. His eyelids twitched, hand clutching the sheet higher beneath his chin. His head jerked, a minute move sounding loud with all that hair sliding over the sheets. Taking a shallow breath, letting out a less pained bleat, he stilled.


I hope you enjoyed. Please visit Facebook for links to some stellar writing examples.



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Darla’s Discoveries – Music as a... Mask?

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me in even a virtual sense knows music is one of my favorite things in this entire world. An inner ear headphone worn back in my office work days helped keep me sane, sometimes with the thousands of songs on random play.

It was amusing to hear a Marilyn Manson tune followed by Mozart, then maybe some hardcore Otep. And something fast paced makes exercising and cleaning a little more palatable.

Now I’m an aging asthmatic early retiree with one creaky knee who found other benefits to playing tunes. Breathing easy but lungs popping and crackling? Turn up The Cure. Queasy over a grinding knee joint ascending the cellar stairs? Put Palaye Royale on through headphones before starting the laundry.

As I type, I’m listening to music from “The Crow” to drown out my rattling exhalations. Maybe after this I’ll put on some KoЯn. That’s always fun writing accompaniment.

KoЯn - Nu Metal Masters
Does your life require a soundtrack?