Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
And when you've looked there, go here. Make sure you wait to read what appears in the 'error message' box...
And here's another. Go here, Click on Watch This Movie!!!, wait for the page to load (it's Flash so might take a moment or two) then click on Twins... I cracked up...
Monday, September 27, 2004
I held her in my hand for a little while - she was soft and surprisingly heavy, it was a little like holding a sleeping mouse. Ken took a couple of photographs while Kai made her a tiny cardboard 'coffin' and wrote Tracy on the top in his prettiest script. We wrapped her in tissue paper, put flowers over her (hawkweed, soapwort, rosemary - there's not much in the garden at this time of year) and buried her beside the medlar.
Still don't know what happened, although it looked to me as though her abdomen was distorted: it's possible something disturbed her while she was upside down on the roof of the tank, she fell, and ruptured it, apparently one of the most common causes of death amongst tarantulas.
We'll miss her.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
No reaction when we (gently) prodded Tracy's legs earlier. We'll take her out of the tank tomorrow: Kai wants to give her a 'proper burial', bless him. Thanks to everyone for sympathy and good wishes. Kai said earlier he was glad it was quick (which it must have been) rather than a fungal or mite infection (which can apparently happen and would be long and drawn out): he already accepts that death is a part of the process of living, knows my thoughts on the subject, and is pretty OK about the whole thing, luckily.
And I will ring the shop, onna, though we know she was perfectly healthy and had three normal sheds before this happened, so I don't think it was any inherent problem. They may have heard of something like this happening to another spider...
Members of the British Tarantula Society open forum (I registered on Friday in the hope they might be able to help) were of the opinion that it was a bad moult and she got stuck in the old skin - rare, but it does happen. I'm not certain myself: the fact that she was eating and climbing the day before makes me wonder - plus the fact she wasn't moving, much less struggling. But it's academic now, and these things happen, sad as it is.
I'd like us to get another, as and when Red Knee spiderlings become available. Ken's not too keen, but then he wasn't too keen in the first place. But the agreement was always that I'd look after them (as well as Kai) and that hasn't changed. We'll see how we go.
At the moment I'm trying to convince myself that I do not want a snake...
Glad you liked the picture, Valkyrie! I'm really quite chuffed with it.
It's been a bitty sort of a day. We watched RotK again, so Ken could see it (so much of the scenery of the films has a visceral familiarity for me, which adds to the effect. Edoras has resonances of Glastonbury Tor, while Minas Tirith makes me think of Mont St Michel, a place I love.) Still not enough Legolas though...
Then a last Twinfix before the dvds were taken back, site maintenance for Jenni and the IAVMT, and the usual 'Sunday getting ready for Monday' type things, and I'm finally settled to get a little writing done - without headphones, dammit, they keep cutting out. Must have a loose connection somewhere in the cable...
Saturday, September 25, 2004
[happy sigh] So we watched Return of the King... love that film. Not enough Legolas though...
Twinfix (again) later...
Snaffled from Lutra's Pond:
[and from the comments...] (Joules) [sigh] I get the blame for everything!
[frown, then smirk] Is it because of my fine taste and sense of discrimination when it comes to pretty boys? [beg]
(Joules) [sigh] I get the blame for everything! [frown, then smirk] Is it because of my fine taste and sense of discrimination when it comes to pretty boys? [beg]
We're pretty certain Tracy is dead. It's been nearly 36 hours, her legs are now flat on the substrate and she hasn't moved at all. Going to leave her another 12 just in case, but it's looking increasingly unlikely. I think I'm more upset than Kai - I was very fond of that spider.
Friday, September 24, 2004
[... bleurgh...] Bed at 04.04. Woken at 08.09 by worried bratling sitting on bed telling me Tracy was lying on her back not moving. (Quite what I was expected to do about this I'm not too sure - try mouth to mouth resuscitation or something?) It's now 10.00 and she's still on her back not moving... It's too soon for another shed, and she was up and about eating quite happily yesterday: I have no idea what's wrong. Will see if I can find any info on the tarantula sites we have bookmarked after updating here.
Publisher has come back to us re: the possible book commission; the sales team like the idea, now we need a flatplan (for anyone who doesn't know, that's a page by page 'storyboard' of the whole book, including suggestions for illustrations. We'd normally expect to be paid something at this stage, but apparently this publisher does things differently.) Once the flatplan's been approved, the whole project will be budgetted and then we'll be offered the contract. (Generally speaking this is fairly standard for non-fic.) The wordage has been reduced a little, to 30,000 words from 35,000 in 144 pages, which will help with meeting the deadline.
So there's still nothing definite, but it's looking promising. We'll start work on the flatplan on Monday: If I remember rightly we managed to complete a first draft flatplan for our first book in two days, so this one shouldn't be too difficult [she says, realising uneasily that that sounds like famous last words...]. The editor is in London next week, and it would be good to have the plan done in case we need to speak.
Kai's back to school today. I have a persistent nagging headache and low-grade sore throat, but at least my voice has come back (lost it yesterday, oh joy...) so it looks like we might have got off lightly this time.
Van Von Hunter is amusing at the moment: the story's back to the Flaming Prince, who is just so adorable - go see #112, don't you just want to give him a cuddle and tell him everything will be alright?... Lutra and I decided he shouldn't be expected to even attempt evil despotism: he should be in a big luxurious castle with a big strong wo/man (or several) to look after him and take all the difficulties of reigning from his shoulders so he can sit around eating walnut cookies, looking pretty and making grandiose plans that will never be put into action....
[shakes head] Not quite composted this morning. Going to need a nap later...
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
We have a poorly bratling. He stayed home yesterday, feeling ill, but seemed to be OK this morning so went in. But I had a phone call from the school at lunchtime, and had to go collect him. His glands are swollen under his jaw, and he's lost his appetite a bit, but other than that he's not too bad; no temperature (and it's not mumps, he's had his MMR), and he's currently cheating at Monopoly with Ken... I'll probably keep him home tomorrow though, just to be on the safe side. And wait to see if I go down with it [sigh].
We've been watching Shoebox Zoo, a new BBC children's programme at 6.30 on CBBC. It's rather good! Kai is definitely into it, looking forward to each episode.
Kai also announced he likes Britney Spears and wants a dvd of her song videos... (I'm saying nowt - though I did rather like the Toxic video.) For once the timing's good: it's available at Sainsbug's for £12.99, and Yule's coming up...
Looks like Ken's off gallivanting for the day on Saturday, so Kai and I will rent some dvds and have a lazy time (I need a Twin fix in any case).
Aaaaand in other news.. It appears that Rosa isn't ready to shed yet, she's eating again.
Tracy's new tank is nearly ready for her to move into - might try that tomorrow.
We haven't heard about the book commission yet - although we don't know what time the meeting was...
And I'm about to start the next AC chapter.
Monday, September 20, 2004
But I have now posted Separate. Will organise the links and the proper intro page tomorrow, too tired right now. Story takes place immediately after the last time we see the Twins in Reloaded...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Valkyrie!
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Done. Well, mostly - a few small things to clear up tomorrow then the whole outline can go off. Not bad for a weekend's work, and the chapter outlines will be very useful for the flatplan too.
And on an entirely unrelated subject, Separate - the second Matrix Twinfic - is almost ready to post. Another one that insisted on being written (last week before the commission outline came up)...
Onna, are my emails reaching you?
Friday, September 17, 2004
[bleary eyed] First chapter outline went off at 10.55 pm my time: reply came back at 4.04 am my time saying it was just what she needed - so no need to rewrite and we can use that format as the basis for the other chapters. The first of which is now outlined and annotated: Ken and I need to brainstorm the next, after dinner (and a nap for me, I'm knackered).
So far so good. If we get the commission, the desired deadline is Feb 2005, the absolute deadline March 2005, for a publication date of Feb/March 2006. We'll work as usual, with Ken doing the necessary research, the introductions to the chapters and any needed brainstorming/corrections/amendments, while I do the bulk of the actual writing (Ken's writing style tends to the academic, and most of our joint books require a more informal approach). Can we do it? Yes we can, though it'll be a little tight, and of course there's Yule in the way. Never mind. There are no obstacles, only challenges, and we all know how much I enjoy a challenge...
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Right, review written, checked and away, and I've done a fair bit of work for the possible commission already: barring catastrophes there shouldn't be a problem sending it off later today. Though I forgot to say that the rest of the detailed breakdown (of the other nine chapters) will be required by the end of the day next Monday (11pm our time, 5pm their time) for a publisher's sales meeting on Tuesday. (What I'm doing at the moment is a dry run to see if the editor needs more information to take to the meeting. If you can call a phone conference a meeting, that is. If she's happy with the first chapter we'll then write up the outlines of the others in the same style ready to send on Monday. If she's not, I'll have to rewrite. Whatever happens, it's going to be a hectic weekend!)
... which may mean the next AC chapter will be delayed. I'd rather not, but we'll have to see how we go.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
... memo to self - when you've finished reading a book for review, review it right away, don't leave it 'til you feel like it: 1. you probably aren't ever going to feel like it and 2. you can bet your arse something else more important will come up in the meantime.
Like the detailed breakdown of the first chapter of the possible commission, plus the book's overview, by the end of the day tomorrow.
[growl] My own fault for not getting on with it. Eh well. Busy night tonight...
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
One of those days where to do anything at all I've needed to do three other things first - most of them along the lines of creating style sheets and removing extraneous html in our various sites. Made a start on my own site example page (and in the process found - or rather didn't find - the original site screen caps (apparently misfiled) and had to make them again. [sigh] Not Butch this time - at least, I don't think so - I have well over half a million files on this computer (including programmes and system files) and no logical filing system (I normally rely on my memory. Which is fine, as long as I can remember where I filed everything, which of course I can't. Add to that Butch's misfiling and Ken saving files in places I would simply never think to look and you have a near perfect recipe for chaos. Or possibly Arkaos. I need a PA/secretary/organiser...)
Where was I? Oh yes...
Kai's site now corrected (mostly, there's still a little stray code on one page I need to revise when I'm less frazzled), as is Early Heaven. Jenni's index needs tweaking, and Haadri needs a non-frames page. BRISTAL doesn't even have a style sheet: it needs near complete rewriting, will have to do that in stages. Luckily it's not too big. Unlike WaveWrights, which has 81 different backgrounds including those in the (other) Zone. Not looking forward to that, not least because by the time I've finished, there'll probably be something new I need to add or amend. Heh, Forth Bridge time!
However, it was very satisfying to code up Lorna's site from scratch, put it through the WC3 validation checker and find everything correct and DDA-compliant. Maybe time to work on elegance as well as accuracy, now. (On that subject, I found this, which made me chuckle. At the time I was actually trying to verify that the Merovingian's restaurant is called Le Vrai, as everyone/where seems to imply: it's amazing the things you can find when looking for something else...)
Mystery Men was on Sci-Fi Channel last night - a deliciously silly film with lots of relatively famous faces. I videoed it and Ken and Kai watched it this evening: both enjoyed it, though Kai was heard to ask "when does it start getting funny?" even though I'd warned him it took a wee while to get going. (Grinned over PMS Avenger: "I only work four days a month - got a problem with that?") Heh, there are far worse ways to spend a couple of hours...
My review of Just Desserts is due on Thursday. I meant to write it last week, but that accurséd plague of flying haddock wreaked havoc as usual...
Back to it.
Monday, September 13, 2004
It took a bit of doing, but Kai did finish his homework and tidied his room... The homework was quite fun: Ken was working on book spreads upstairs so I helped bratling. Science definitions. Dissolve, evaporate, solution, condensation, solvent... Kai was able to do most of them (with a little prodding): the couple he wasn't too sure about he looked up in the dictionary.
AC6 is now finished and AC7 started - though of course a big chunk of it's already written; the 'l & L story will be shunted into 7 once I've written the first couple of chapters. Then we have the fun of finishing that section (it will be fun, too!)
Anything else? Worked a little more on Lorna's site, made a start on a second Twinfic (for a break - it's been hectic...), discussed book spreads with Ken. They have to be with our agent by Tuesday, with the publisher by Wednesday, so it's a bit of a rush. No guarantee of the commission at the end of it, of course, but that goes with the territory. It would be a fun book to write, so keeping fingers crossed!
Saturday, September 11, 2004
4 pm and I'm tired already!
Mind you, I was up early and over to the Reptile House before breakfast (new tank/substrate/drinking bowl and crickets). Kai didn't want to come with me, which did speed up the whole process. And I've finally put the holiday photos into a gallery - find the thumbnails HERE (fairly big pics, so please give them time to load). [GLOMPS Carol]
Sorted out Jenni's Guestbook last night, and rewrote Lorna's site to CSS/html (instead of a database-driven vbs/asp format that was wholly non-DDA compliant), although there are a couple of tricky bits of coding I haven't quite finished yet. Will have those done by the end of the weekend.
And I've had the [ping] for a second Twinfic. [sigh] No. Not yet. Aftermath 4 first! Then Double Vision. And Haadri...
On the subject of the AC, Lutra's next chapter - Reformation 2 - is now posted in the (other) Zone. I'm intending to have Aftermath 4 finished by Monday midday, and will update when it's posted.
Better get organised to make dinner...
Friday, September 10, 2004
Well that was hectic...
The day started off badly and got better. Very nice when that happens. Let's see... call from Chelsey about a possible book commission; transfer of Jenni's site finalised and cgi scripts installed (I've changed the colours of the guestbook to match the site, but can't work out how to code to access the 'view' function. I'm sure it's just me and my rusty cgi - and tiredness, I'm knackered, because - ); John Cabot Open Evening with Kai. We actually went straight from school, thinking we'd go and pick up the larger tank/waterbowl/substrate/crickets for Tracy since it's in roughly the same direction, spend a little time admiring the beasties in the Reptile House, let Kai have a run in the park, then get the bus up Two Mile Hill. Except the Reptile House closes at 1pm on a Thursday...
So we walked to John Cabot. Two miles up a busy, winding hill in 25 degree heat. Then spent an hour wandering around the College before repairing to the Assembly Hall to hear the Principal speak, along with what seemed like hundreds of other sprogs with their parents...
Actually it probably was hundreds - an awful lot of people want to get in, and after seeing the place I'm not surprised. It's wonderful, all of it. And it greets you with the most amazing sense of bright-eyed enthusiasm and dedication. Fantastic place. Kai seems keen (though he was so tired by the time we got back - 9pm - we didn't push for a reaction tonight) - we'll have to see how we go, but I'd love for him to go there, and I tnink he'd love it too. Heh, may be more info posted when I'm less tired.
I'm also taking him to Broadlands school open evening, on September 21st - that might be our second choice, depending on how we feel about it.
On a complete tangent, Tracy was drinking from her waterbowl earlier. Which doesn't sound very interesting, except that she was head-down perched vertically on the tank side above the water when she did it. [sigh] We have an acrobatic tarantula...
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Is it just me, or is anyone else having problems with the 'net at the moment? What with emails coming through sans their embedded .jpgs (OK, no real problem there), at least one of my daily comic checks apparently vanished (I mean that Firefox isn't even returning an error page, it's simply not recognising Catharsis at all and reloading my home page...), and Jenni's site, despite Moose authorising the transfer, is now apparently, according to WHOIS, caught between the Moose nameservers and the Supanames nameservers (no idea how that happened, I'd have thought it wasn't possible) and inaccessible... And of course Blogger itself has fallen over too, timing out, not allowing posts...
That's not to mention the spate of hacker attempts my firewall has alerted me to in the last three days - fifteen in one hour at its height - all from Korea. (And that's just the new attacks, I don't bother with alerts for repeats.) All very aggravating.
Still, Aftermath 3 is now posted and I'm trying to get a move on with Double Vision pt 6 (I'm estimating 7 parts in total, so I'm nearly finished). And one more chapter each from Lutra and myself and the Sixth Chronicle is done!
Which also means that the end of the Chronicles as a whole is in sight. I'm still on target to finish it by Yule, despite diminishing enthusiasm and lack of haddock.
In other news: town shopping was successful. Even managed to pick up Fake 2 (which Ken promptly commandeered and put away for Yule for me) from Kathie's Comics. (They had 3, 4 and 5 too, but Kai needed new school trousers.) And Forbidden Planet had Demon Diary 5 and 6...
Forbidden Planet also had the busts of the Matrix Twins, six and a quarter inches tall and gorgeously detailed - and £37.99 each... I was actually looking for one of the McFarlane figures, thought it might make an interesting companion/contrast for Vash, beside my monitor... Heh, what a crossover that would be... [smashes the [pinging] lightbulb. Nonononono I'm supposed to be finishing projects, not starting new ones...]
They didn't have any McFarlane Twins. Probably just as well... [sigh]
... need haddock... can't keep up...
Aftermath 3 now posted in the (other) Zone. One more chapter from each of us and the Sixth Chronicle is finished - which means we're getting closer to the whole thing being finished...
Monday, September 06, 2004
Typical. Wettest August on record, the sprogs go back to school and we get a heatwave.
Busy week this week. BCP meeting tomorrow evening, John Cabot Open Evening on Thursday, and a Neighbourhood Watch meeting on Friday. Need to get into town to hunt presents too, on Tuesday - brother's birthday in two weeks...
Still gobsmacked over how big Tracy is, easily a little bigger than the palm of my hand with her legs stretched out. And amazingly furry! She's beautiful, and Kai's delighted with her... Having tarantulas in the house has had one unexpected bonus. Tonight Kai came running through from the kitchen saying there was a big spider there: I went out to see, only to find it was a smallish sized tegenaria (for some reason I always want to call them stegasaurs, must be the shape of the word...). OK, pre-Rosa I probably would have thought it was a big spider, but not any more. (Caught it under a glass - didn't want to hurt the thing - which Ken then took from me to empty in the garden. Only he miscalculated the toss and the spider ended up in an orb-weaver's web: the orb-weaver immediately scuttled over and began wrapping the tegenaria in silk preparatory to eating it... [sigh]) Probably just as well, though, it's September, and as I think I said last year our house becomes bug-central in the autumn...
Discovered that the microwave makes my screen flicker. Only very slightly, but enough to give me a headache. Tch', there's always something!
And Kai has made a lightning detector. No idea how it's supposed to work, but it looks - interesting...
Friday, September 03, 2004
... bloody hell...
Tracy was up against the rear wall of her tank earlier, stretching: she's doubled her size again! The big fat abdomen that looked too heavy for her yesterday now looks tiny - and her legs are so looooong... BIG pretty spider...
I tried to take a photo without flash: not sure if it'll come out or not but if it does I'll post it here.
September, and suddenly the shorter evenings are more noticeable. And I'm well behind with my Yule shopping this year, better start thinking about it I suppose.
Aftermath 3, the next AC chapter, now started...
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Right... First news of the day is that Tracy is half way through her third shed. Though I'm a little concerned, as she's chosen to flip upside down very close to her burrow, and the exuvium is being pushed partially inside it. Hoping that won't cause her any problems: disturbing a tarantula during the shed is dangerous (for the spider, I mean). Will keep an eye on her over the next couple of hours.
We think Rosa may also be getting ready to shed - it's about time, she's off her food, and has been spinning silk in the last few days.
I've finished reading Hal Spacejock Just Desserts... It's wonderful! Dry, wry and very funny indeed...
I chortled all the way through...
OK, it's 11pm and Tracy is the right way up, scrunched up but looking fine. And bigger. Heh, you'd think I'd know by now that she knows what she's doing...
Had a go at the drawings for Beautiful Day but the fingers just weren't cooperating, so I've uploaded the story without them. I'll maybe try again later. You can find the story via The Vault, or just click here to go straight to the introduction...
[SNARL]... It wasn't the code, or me being incompetent. It was PhotoShop pasting a piece of Word .doc text into the background layer of my .jpg instead of the graphic I'd spent an hour designing. [glares murder at Butch, who has also rendered IE non-functional tonight - not that that's any great loss...]
I didn't find out until in desperation I tried to c/p the graphic into a new background.
But it works now.
Still trying to tackle the illustrations...
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
[pleased grin] Beautiful Day has an enthusiastic thumbs-up from those who've had a sneak peek - including (GASP) Ken!
So I've spent the afternoon, while Ken took Kai to Keynsham, struggling with a recalcitrant piece of CSS coding that will not do what I want it to do, and which is essential for the overall look of the page (and there Ken agrees with me). It's driving me spare. I can't upload the page until I've got it sorted. Though that being said, I want to see if I can do a couple of illustrations for the story as well, which is going to take a wee while. Or not, depending on how well my brain/fingers/pencil coordination fares!
Turns out the clock Kai bought is a bit more special than we thought.
Ken went 'net hunting to see if he could find out more about it. This is what Dave West Clocks said:
Kai's clock's case isn't as elaborate as the one shown on that page, it's a little more like the one shown here (down on the page, not the grandfather clock at the top!).
Seems like it's about 100 years old and could be worth over £300!
Not bad for a £15 clock from a second hand shop, ne? [grin]