Sometimes I wish I’d just done a children’s book. The kind with lots of pictures and is only 12 pages long. But sometimes a few things get a little bit easier:

  • Gentle reader, I have for you two words: Google Documents. (I’d give you a link, but it insists that I mean my personal folders. So . . . um, go Google it.) Absolutely priceless if you work on two entirely different computers, as I do. Also peachy for backups. (Presumably the nice folks at Google are doing backups themselves.)

    One caveat: There is an option for editing stuff online, and it is apparently a nice little stripped down word processor. But if you’re like me, and just want to schlep your Office files from one place to another, you want to uncheck the box that pants helpfully that it will convert them to their own doc format–which as far as I’ve noticed tends to nuke my own formatting. 

    (And can I whinge here about a certain suite of office materials that only understands its own documents, although everybody else is able to understand bunchies? They have to, because they need an option to export the blasted things in the format the snotty little suite understands.)

And let’s not even talk about the fact that the horrible sunzabitches won’t let any other browser access its site than its own retard child. Nope, not going there. When my beloved Polycarp goes where ancient desktops have to go, I’m not bothering to keep the PC architecture. My next kiddo will be an admittedly horribly overpriced Mac. After all, our apps export to . . . Nope, nope, nope. Moving on:

  • I have discovered that I know how to type. As in without looking at the keys. I’m not super good at it, but fixing the errors is faster than the old ways. Trouble is, I’m in the same positiion of the centipede who was asked how on earth he managed it. He stopped to think, and then couldn’t do it at all.I’m so bemused by the fact that I’ve picked up this skill after so many years, that when I pay attention the entire process just slows to a halt. I’m actually reasonably good when not really paying any attenti0n at all–but then in the back of my mind I go, “Whoa! How am I doing this? Am I doing it right?” And then it all falls apart with a crashing boom.

    There is one benefit to this, though–even when looking (presuming I’m staying out of my own way) I’ve gotten a lot faster, which is a Good Thing when transcribing page after page of text. I haven’t tried to figure out how long the damned thing is in quite some time–I’m just in denial. I comfort myself by having heard somewhere that big isn’t as bad as small in the realm of the genre novel. We shall see.

  • I seem to spend a significant portion of my so-called “writing” time noodling about doing research. I already shared the funsies of Inuit grammar a month or so ago. Which started with a single “throwaway” reference.

    This afternoon’s task is also about names. I have a family with the last name of Avalon. After annoyingly clever comments for several generations, they decided to just roll with it, and now all born Avalons have names out of the Matter of Britain.  There are a lot of Avalons, and so I have finally had to break down and spelunk the crevasses of various places on the Interwebs to find a bunch. This guy’s list is the winner so far.

    Anyway, because there are a lot of them; and because they feature in a scandalous complication, which matters at least in my own wee fuzzy head, I’ve been trying for FIVE YEARS to find something that would handle family trees. Failed–unless I wanted to pay for something that apparently would sketch it all about in a twee little graphic.

    And even in the packages I demo’ed, it’s kind of complicated, when you figure out on page two-zillion-six that somebody is really related to such and who, to go in there and change it. Apparently there’s no perfect answer to this question, and the people who do it for realsies use good ol’ pen and paper–or, I should say, pencil. They then make lots of copies of sections and back up their work–er, photocopy it–undoubtedly while using a few choice words.

    I’m not that patient; I’m not that organized. The manuscript itself is in something like seven or eight notebooks at this point, all with notes scrawled randomly in them, and when the dust settles, I’m going to go in and mine it all for stuff that I was stupid about; or that answers some random-ass question after said research, etc.

    So, between me being me, and the task being what it is, anybody who knows me is now LTAO at the very thought of me with sticky notes, scissors, and several different folders of different colors. Moan.

    Then, just now, while messing with another sheet in the growing table of various data (necessary when putting together an entire society), I had the epiphany that you can do it with a worksheet.

    It’s not easy. At all. As of the moment, I have some hope that Pages will do a better job than Excel. Sigh. But that said, after a mere hour of tinkering, I have the nasty little buggers all worked out.

    The very best part of having done this is that, now that it’s all drawn out graphically–it’s actually not confusing at all. Much.

  • More as this exciting task progresses.

  • Ironically, as I’ve been doing this blog, and having the usual (if you’re me) argument about bullets’n’paragraphs, I just popped into the HTML window, and could fix stuff. God, how I wish that you could similarly pop the hood on most things. (And no, I don’t want to hear anybody say anything about Unix based applications.)
  • In other news, I’m having a kidney stone. Yay. At least now I’ll finally make the appointment with my urologist I’ve been waving my paws at for the last several months.

So how’s by you?

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