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bear by san

March 2017



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twain & tesla

man is made of dreams and bones

netcurmudgeon has a question for those of you who work and IM in a corporate environment:

Anybody out there using IM at work? What do you use it for? Is it "sanctioned" by the powers that be in your organization? If yes, are your IMs archived for FOI/DOJ/SEC type purposes? And, generally, what are your thoughts on IM in the workplace?

Well, I'm on page 22 of "Lumiere," and trying to decide if I should do that this morning after I play guitar, or go to the gym. (I only have time for one today, as I'm being a pickup truck for arcaedia this afternoon. Kung Fu Tse say, woman with pickup truck never buy own lunch, nor be bored on weekends.) Still, I've gotten everybody to Paris, by roundabout routes, and established motivations, and the actual plot can start. I'm going to have to figure out if there actually is a !Tesla character in this thing, and exactly what I'm doing with him.

Alas, I can't shake the feeling that this is all very contrived, which may be, after all, because it is. Storytelling is contrivance. One just attempts to hide the strings. Well, usually. Sometimes watching the strings move is part of the play.

I've been under some pressure for a while now to explain myself more in my novel length work, and I can't shake the feeling that all that exposition may not be the best idea. I've gotten quite good at exposition (if I do say so myself) and half the trick of it is just to stride in with confidence and to be interested in what you are talking about. But you know, I'm not sure making all the backstory and worldbuilding very plain is always the best choice.

It's an odd tension--most things in art are tension, I find, sliding scales, situations where you can have X or you can have Y. Accessibility and transparency are virtues. But you know, too much of that and I become profoundly bored, both as a writer and as a reader, more importantly. I think it's more fun for the reader if the narrative has implications which she can fill herself, deduce the answers to, play around with. I don't care to be told what character motivations are. I care to deduce them, as I would when dealing with real people.

On the fall of the other shoe, however, one doesn't wish to be obscure for its own sake. Specifically, there is a place where the act of coloring in the narrative is a satisfying part of reading it, but the the narrative has enough flesh and bones and sinew to carry itself. And there is a place where one is hand-held and bored to tears, and a place where one is hopelessly confused. The tricky bit is, of course, that those lines are different for every reader. One man's painfully obvious is another man's obscure.

It is something of a dilemma.


I think my learning curve is flattening off, finally. I haven't had a major revelation with regard to craft in quite some time, though I still occasionally figure out little bitty tricks and things. I can't say it's unpleasant: pushing one's limits all the time is hard. I mean, I hope I will continue to improve, and I plan to keep working at it. But I can't be too upset that I'm no longe finishing each book a noticeably better writer than when I started. Because that made matching the bits a trifle hard.

I am getting better at this guitar thing, at least. I can play most of "City of New Orleans" in G (the B flats elude me. As well they might, so right now I'm just skipping over them--which makes "and the sons of engineers" sound a little funny, but what are you gonna do?) and I've figured out that if I swap out the A flat for a straight A I can play all of "Seven." And really, who can tell the difference? Especially given how sloppily I chord.

Also, I can play "Jingle Bells." And a really hypersimplified version of "When The Saints Go Marching In." And the wedding march.

With that in my musical arsenal, I think I'm prepared for any eventuality.

Now I just have to learn how to strum. *g* And, you know, the notes on three more strings....



On the guitar business, it's one of the reasons I love and respect David Wilcox. He has a very Joni Mitchell-esque open-tuning style and he makes it sound HELLA good, but it makes tuning the guitar for a particular song ATLEAST as technical as most people play. Which has always made me wonder... Until he cleared it up when I heard him play live last year.

"I kinda cheat," he admitted, "Basically I just have one way that I play the guitar, and I just tune the guitar so a particular song comes from that playing."

Yup... made me wanna shoot him in the head RIGHT there. :-P

I'm not sure how, exactly, that related to what you said... I'm going to go get a cup of coffee and see if I can figure it out. I'll let you know.
We use IM extensively here at Citrix Online. We use it for internal consultation. Since I have had the same AIM ID since 96 I just used that. Unfortunately it has the side effect of sometimes being "consulted" when online at home.but its not that often.

Till Anon,
We use IM pretty continually between the house and the shop - it's cheap and efficient, more so than the phone. Other than T, however, I don't use it - too much of a time sink.
It is something of a dilemma.

"But you know, I'm not sure making all the backstory and worldbuilding very plain is always the best choice."

My partner is reading your books now (thank god because not talking about them was KILLING me) and she and I both find your reluctance to explain every detail of the backstory and world to be a real strength in your books.

Just so's you know. :-)
thank you!
My mom is enjoying Hammered.
"Lady of Spain" and "Barnacle Bill" are the only two songs you need. I think the Drone's club proved that when forming their "Jazz-o-maniacs" banjollele band in one of the Bertie Wooster adventures.
I’m expected to be on IM for work. It makes it easy for developers to ask quick questions of each other; even when people aren’t working from home, it’s still useful to be able to send text so (a) you can be very precise and (b) each person has their own environment in which it’s easy to look up detailed answers. I find it very handy. We’re a small startup that doesn’t have to meet any government requirements, so no one has ever asked me to keep logs; I don’t know what a bigger company with ISO 9000 certification and all that would be like.
We use IM at ArenaNet for business because our building is huge and walking around to the individual team pods can be a career in and of itself. I can't help it if my friendslist includes non-work people... :P
Can you play an A using your middle, ring, and pinky fingers?

If you can, you just do that, one fret up, and fret the first fret on the first string with your index finger, and there's your B flat.

And I just play A flat as an E-shape on the, um, sixth? fret. I don't know any good way to do it without a barre chord.
Oh, or I'll just fret the A-shape one fret DOWN, and only play the three strings I'm fretting.
I play the A-shape barre chords with my kind-of-flattened top joint of my ring finger covering the two middle strings, and the pinky on the high string; I find it much easier. But the E-shape is easier yet, as is a barred A-minor, so I'd play that bit all in barre chords.

Mind you when I was learning guitar it took me like a year before I could play any barre chord that didn't twang and buzz like a drunken hippopotamus.
*g* I've got the F down, more or less. Right now, I'm working on actually changing smoothly.

Which appears to be my bugaboo. I suspect it's because I suck at visualization, which is how all the "change-chords-better" articles reccomend one do it. So I'm trying to train my left hand to know what the different chords *feel* like, so it falls into the right position.

Interestingly, I am a better guitar player with my eyes closed.