11 April, 2004

My monitor is dying! Crap! It freaked-out three times today. Third time scared me so much I actually did the basic monitor check stuff. I unplugged the monitor cable from the back of the computer, checked it for dust, stuck it back on real snug, and then did the same at the monitor's end of the cable. I don't think it's a software problem. The screen kind-of flipped out. Everything went sort-of gray and black and white with streaky lines. It made everything really hard to see. Definitely left me rattled. Kind of hard to work on the comic or the website if I can't see it. My monitor is just old and cranky, I guess. It's a ViewSonic G771 that I got back in 1998. Hey, I saved a lot of money by not getting a new monitor when I picked out my new computer last year.

Because of String Finger Theatre and the website, I may have to do a pre-emptive broken monitor replacement purchase. I can get a seventeen inch Dell CRT for two hundred bucks. If I go that route, then I'll finally have a Dell monitor to go with my Dell computer. Of course, they'll slap a shipping charge on the damn thing so I may try running over to CompUSA. According to their website, I can get a new ViewSonic for about one hundred and fifty bucks. It would save on the shipping, and sales tax certainly wouldn't be as much as shipping. Dell charges a lot for shipping.

Anyway, I'm going to wait until next weekend to make a decision. No reason to take time off work to deal with this. Besides, this kind of decision shouldn't be made in a hurry unless the thing just ups and completely dies on me, and I really hope that doesn't happen. I just hope it doesn't interfere with the comic.

So, if you go to the comic one day in the next week or two and there is no comic and no apology or anything, then my monitor exploded, and I'm trying desperately to replace it.

As for the comic, work has been progressing slowly, but it has been progressing. The switch to Daylight Savings Time hit me really hard, and I was tired and cranky all last week. Sign I'm getting old. Well, sign I just turned thirty-four, anyway. But, speaking of tired and cranky, I suddenly got so tired this afternoon that I just crawled into bed and proceeded to sleep for almost three hours. That's impressive. If I nap in the late afternoon, it's usually just for an hour or two. Almost three hours is quite unusual, and I just hope I don't have too much trouble getting to sleep tonight. Of course, it's almost midnight now so it won't be long before I test that theory.

The comic is entertaining me at the moment, which is good. There has been a nice balance of late between keeping things moving plot-wise and letting them riff, and Mike and Cat have just been really mean to Zed. I swear they really should be nicer to the guy. I don't understand what they have against him. He just wants to be helpful, and he really hasn't done anything stupid since he stopped sulking at the end of episode two. I guess Cat and Mike just remember what he used to be like, and they're just not going to give him any slack. Oh, well, they should be nice.

Zed being all heroic and winning the respect of the others is not one of the major plot points of episode four, but maybe, it's in one of the details. That's what I do love about doing this. I leave as many of the details as I can vague because I want things to be able to spiral all out of my control. I'm trying to think of a good example of this from out of the first three episodes, but nothing is coming to mind. Oh, wait, except the gag in episode three where Mike keeps summing up the action. That was a spur of the moment thing and really was kind of a necessity because I felt the episode was getting a little long in the tooth. I think I've applied it to fairly good comedic effect. At least, I hope I have. It's a good cover for realizing I couldn't do a convincing chase scene, too.

Of course, I think I mentioned before that I can't keep to a detailed outline. Drives me mad when I try. Oh, speaking of being driven mad, strange things are afoot over The Etymology of Fire way. Yeah, I've actually made some progress over there. I don't know what the hell is going on with the current scene, but I'm letting it happen anyway. I remember the first late night I was working on it, and I just kept thinking something along the lines of what the fuck? I just didn't get it. Didn't make any damn sense. But, I'm letting it happen anyway. Of course, after a day or two of just sort-of stomping around and figuring I should just rip-up the whole damn section, it's starting to fit. It really helped when I took my scribbles and typed them up. I started to see the shape of it better and the words didn't seem to suck so much as they had when I was writing them.

It pisses me off, by the way. I've been working on The Etymology of Fire for going on three years here, and it isn't done. I just want to scream. I want to get back to work on The Faire Folk of Gideon. Not that anybody cares about The Faire Folk of Gideon, but I do. I've had the beginning of book two worked out for the longest damn time, and I can't wait to get into it. But, I'm determined to finish The Etymology of Fire first. I've been working on it since I was sixteen years old, and I want it done. I want the damn thing finished. Of course, then it's just going to sit on my shelf until I figure out how I'm going to get it printed. Money and all of that. Unlike The Faire Folk of Gideon, I really don't want to make it freely available online until I've got the actual book in my hand. I'm weird that way, I know. The Faire Folk of Gideon only exists online, but The Etymology of Fire must exist on paper first. And, I don't mean cheap-ass print-on-demand or any crap like that. I mean published. Like The Magic Flute is published. Good cover. Nice paper. Good binding. The works. Stupid, I know, but it's what I want. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to this crap. Self-destructive as hell. Oh, well.

18 April, 2004

So, I've had my new monitor for just about twenty-four hours now, and it seems to be doing just great. It is still a ViewSonic just like the old one. It is this entertaining blend of silver and black whereas the old one was that generic cream color that everybody was into at the time. I don't really know enough about monitors to really know if this one is any better or worse than any other I could have picked out. All I know for sure is that Fry's Electronics in San Jose had a sale on these puppies, and my old ViewSonic monitor treated me just fine for something like six years.

As last week progressed, I had actually been beginning to hope that I wouldn't need a new monitor. I discovered that I could clear up the screen just fine if I gave the monitor a really good whack upside the side of the box whenever it started to act out. Unfortunately, the cranky old bastard started to misbehave more and more as the week worn on, and by Friday night, it was starting to ignore my attempts to get its attention. Since there is only so much violence I was interested in visiting upon the annoying bastard, I knew I had better do the replacement thing. Besides, my brother had informed me of the sale at Fry's, and I just decided it was a sign to get a new one.

I did get one cool email in reply to my journal entry from last week. It was a link to a website that covered monitors and monitor repair. Cool page. The email even included a direct link to the section that described my monitor's symptoms exactly. It appears that it is possible to fix my old monitor, but this is definitely not something I am going to attempt myself.

So, now I've got a seventeen-inch ViewSonic G771 monitor that I need to figure out how to get rid of. I know this place in San Francisco, which will take it off my hands for twenty bucks, but I've misplaced their address. I found them when I was trying to figure out how to dispose of my old P2-266 computer, and they had said that the computer was in such good shape that they didn't even charge me to dispose of it. For all I know, they put it up in their showroom for five bucks or something. I had remembered to wipe the hard disk so what do I care what they did with it.

So, I could take my old monitor to them, and they'll take it off my hands for twenty bucks. It was kind of cool. The guy explained to me what they have to do to old televisions and monitors in order to dispose of them. What with the crushing and the grinding and the vacuuming. Anyway, I don't know where I mislaid their address. It'll probably take me a week or two before I get around to figuring out where they are located again.

So, anybody interested in a six-year-old mostly broken down seventeen-inch ViewSonic monitor? It really works just great aside from the thing it does what with the screen going gray and streaky. I understand this is fixable for anybody who knows how. It still looks good. It's in great shape aside from the occasional streaking. The colors aren't faded. The screen isn't fuzzy or distorted or hanging onto ghosts or anything like that. In fact, I'm really rather annoyed that it developed this whole streaky gray habit because other than that it is still an awesome monitor. Oh, well. So, if you think you can fix it and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, drop me an email before I get around to disposing of it and it is yours.

25 April, 2004

Well, so much for getting rid of my old monitor in a timely fashion. The outfit in San Francisco that recycles monitors isn't open on Saturday mornings anymore. So, I'm going to have to get time off work in-order to get over there on a weekday, and I don't know when I'm going to be able to manage that. Oh, well, just more time for somebody to take an interest in taking it off my hands. It occurred to me that I could do something silly like put it up on Craig's List, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I can just picture the listing. Broken monitor. You want it? It's yours. I suppose I could even take a picture of it for the listing. I wonder if anyone would actually be interested. Oh, well, if it starts to take too long before I can get over to the recycling place, I just might try the Craig's List route.

And, how did I find out the recycle place doesn't accept broken computer monitors on Saturday anymore? Did I do something as mind-numbingly intelligent as actually call them up and make sure they were still doing it? Why, no, of course not. I had to drive up to the place and find the gate locked. Before that I had to carry the monitor from my apartment to the car, and then of course, I got to drive the monitor back to my apartment and carry it back into the house. The whole time I was thinking that I knew I should have called first. I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. But, did I? No, of course, not.

That was mostly because I didn't have a good chance to look up their address and whatnot in the phone book until Friday night. This last week wasn't a good one for getting things accomplished. I had figured by Thursday or Friday at the latest that I would find five minutes at work to look them up and give them a call. Well, work stayed just annoyingly busy enough to keep me occupied, and then I was in no mood to flip through the phone book Thursday night. So, Friday night, I checked the phone book mostly because I knew I didn't want to be sorting through it first thing Saturday morning. So, I had their phone number and address, but I figured it was too late on a Friday night to try and contact them. Saturday morning rolled around, and I knew I could spend the extra couple of minutes trying to call them or just head on over. So, I decided to take my chances. Oh, well, that's what chances get you.

So, I took my old monitor for a little drive. I figure it needed the attention. After all, it has been replaced by a younger and thinner model. It's feeling neglected. A nice drive would make it feel a whole lot better.

Anyway, this week has not been a good one for getting anything accomplished. I got some more work done on The Etymology of Fire Monday night, but that was about it. Things are creeping along very very slowly. I know I'm close to the end of the book, but I don't know how close. I mean I had thought the previous chapter was going to be the last one with just an epilogue to follow it. Now, I don't know how long this new chapter is going to last. I mean I don't think I have that much more ground to cover, but I have still got to cover it. Things have to happen. Stuff needs to get said.

I'm toying with the idea of never actually meeting the king. Not that this makes any sense to anybody reading this entry, but the king had a moderately large part in the last chapter or two of all previous drafts of this book. Now, I'm thinking he could just remind a presence. People will talk about him. They'll say they are speaking for him and maybe delivering messages and like that, but he won't actually show-up. After all, he doesn't put in an appearance in The Magic Flute so there really isn't any reason why we should see him now. So, I don't know. Well, see how it goes.

I'm also toying with the idea of having a really short epilogue for The Etymology of Fire. Kind of a switch for me. I like epilogue. I'm a big fan of denouncement. I can't stand stories and books that slam to a stop on the last page. Things are roaring along. You don't know how everything is going to be resolved, and then you start to wonder how it's going to be resolved because you're running out of pages. Andre Norton was the worst at this. The crisis would climax on the last page; sometimes in the last paragraph. Footfall had the same problem. Great book, by the way, it's just got a shit-awful ending. I even read somewhere that Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell were feeling stumped for an ending. I don't mean plot-wise. I just mean they were stuck for the actually words to wind the bastard down, and they got so sick of being stuck that they just slapped the end on it and that was it.

So, hating short epilogues, I'm thinking about doing one and not just because I've been working on this revision for three years. In a way, this whole chapter is winding the plot down. There was the big scene at the end of the last chapter where our heroes faced-off against the bad guys and lived. So, in a way, everything that is happening now is just kind-of cleaning up the pieces. We'll see. Chapter seven may be the end. It may stop with something along the lines of okay, we're done, but we shall see. At this point, I really can't say what is going to happen.

I'm also toying with the idea of jumping straight into The Faire Folk of Gideon, Book Two, without so much as a pause. I won't even bother with an edit of The Etymology of Fire right away. Just dive into the new book. Get some distance from The Etymology of Fire before trying to straighten it out. Find the typos. Fix obvious blunders. Crap like that.

In fact, I was thinking just today that I might try to swing a short story or two before hitting The Faire Folk of Gideon again. It would be nice to have a new story to post on the website soon. I don't know when I'll actually be able to publish The Etymology of Fire so it would be nice to have something, and I have been kicking around two ideas.

One idea is this scifi short piece that I've been kicking around. It started as a dream. No really. A dream that struck me as having enough interesting ideas to actually become something. It's about remote piloted ships, and what really struck me was how they remote pilot the ships. Anyway, we'll see. I was actually thinking about doing this as an audio story. No really, it would be cool, and it has been absolutely forever since I added something to the audio archive. Of course, I don't currently have a way to make recordings since I don't have a microphone or any mixing software. Of course, just today, I was thinking I could do the short story version first and then do the audio version, which would tackle the same events from a completely different perspective. The only problem with this is that the audio version would probably only be of interest to me. Oh, well.

The other idea is to finally do the next story in the Martin, the storyteller, cycle. It's the one thing I have known since I finished Fire at the Dawn of Night. There would be another story, and it would be striking different from the first three. It would be so different that people might not even recognize it as being in the same series. For a while, I was thinking about going for something on the order of a novel for the next story, but I've been reconsidering that of late. One of the thoughts I had kicked around while finishing up Fire at the Dawn of Night was that it would be nice if the series only existed as short stories. Some things should be allowed to take up as few words as they need. So, we shall see.

Oh, and don't worry. The next story in the cycle won't be as sick or violent as Fire at the Dawn of Night. I mean, damn, but that was a perverse story. Nothing like our hero viciously beating a woman to death to make you feel good about life, right? So, the next one won't be like that at all. In fact if I do what I'm thinking, the story might be downright boring what with the total lack of death and violence I'm planning on putting in it. Oh, but if I also do what I'm thinking, then there is going to be quite a bit of foul and suggestive language. So, I don't know exactly how I'm going to handle that. I mentioned what I was thinking to Samantha, and you should have seen the face she made. So, we shall see.

copyright © 2004 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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