Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Recent Word Counts

22 April 2014

My usual daily quota right now is around 2,000 words. I budgeted zero words on the two driving days up and near-zero words on the three driving days back on this trip. Nor did I expect normal word counts while I’m up here.
Here’s how many words I wrote on each day of the trip, by day:

  1. 0 (as budgeted)
  2. 0 (as budgeted)
  3. 185 (disappointing)
  4. 298 (disappointing)
  5. 1,160 (a fucking miracle, given we found out the house was a writeoff this day)
  6. 343 (a fucking miracle, having gotten access to the house this day)

Overall, still less than I hoped for, but I’m glad I didn’t let life completely kick me in the ass.
Tomorrow is our first day driving back.
I’m really hoping that one of the childhood heirlooms of mine that still hasn’t been produced can be found and obtained before we leave. It’s an absolutely stupid thing of no commercial value, but it’s such a unique memorabilia piece from my life and so appropriate to this trip, I can’t imagine not having it.
It’s from the trip we took to San Clemente Island one year, when the military mixed up the schedule and accidentally authorized us anchorage at Pyramid Cove at the same time they were shelling the island from a destroyer five miles out. They weren’t missing by much, not even when they went ten or fifteen miles out, so we felt pretty safe exploring the island well away from the target range. So we did. I also remember snorkeling through the kelp beds to get bait for fishing.

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Trip, Days 3-6: Heartbreak, RCMP, and Hazmat

22 April 2014

In the mid-80s, my mom and my late stepfather moved up to Vancouver Island. They lived in Port Alberni for a time, then built a house on almost 13 acres of land in Courtenay.
Her former partner’s been living in it as the caretaker. He hasn’t mentioned any maintenance issues. He hasn’t mentioned no running water in the kitchen.
That may be, in part, because this is the kitchen….

this-was-a-kitchen
I’m going to call him jerkwad because that’s as polite as I can be.
Our last few days went something like this:
Saturday: met with listing agent, met briefly with jerkwad when he brought stuff from the house to our hotel.
Sunday: visited the outside of the house, where we got a sense of maintenance issues. Roof looked dodgy to me. Jerkwad would not let my mother in the house. I was shocked at how poorly cared for it was on the outside. Then again, I do remember the place when it was almost new.
Monday: went with listing agent to the house. Jerkwad let her in, but not my mom. Listing agent was trying to talk to me while jerkwad was talking to mom. I wrote on agent’s pad that mom feared the house would be a total writeoff. Agent said she thought I was right, just based on what little she’d seen. We regroup with agent later on in the day and mom lists the property as is for a lot less than she’d been intending to.
Tuesday: Mom calls jerkwad, tells him she’s coming over.
He leaves a note in a box that basically reads as he’s not giving her permission to enter. Mom starts to call the RCMP, but I point out that it’s safer for us to visit their office rather than wait on property. So we go.
RCMP points out (I already knew this) that it may be complicated as to whether he’s even considered a tenant since he was supposed to be a caretaker. The constable calls jerkwad, who suddenly says of course we can enter the property.
It’s a total hazmat zone. There are rat/mice droppings. The kitchen is, well, you saw it above.
The place isn’t even up to being a teardown. It’s vile and disgusting.
This used to be the beautiful custom home my parents designed and hoped to live in the rest of their lives.

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Trip, Day 2: Eugene to Courtenay, BC

21 April 2014

I woke up early. Neither of us slept well, in fact. Why is it always like that?
I love Hilton Garden Inn breakfasts. This one was particularly nice, for the record. Also: if you have your choice of Hilton Garden Inn or a Hampton Inn, the Hilton Garden Inn has the significantly superior breakfasts. I kept wondering why my breakfast experience at the lower-tier Hiltons was random, but it was simply because I kept alternating property types. These days, I won’t go for a Hampton Inn unless there’s no other good alternative. In short: Hilton Garden Inns have the ability to cook their food, where Hampton Inns just heat what’s brought in. Hilton Garden Inns have a bigger variety for breakfast. Go for the actual cooked food. If, you know, you get free breakfast, aren’t sticking around, aren’t in the mood for hunting, etc.
I took the first stretch of the wheel because it was raining (and we were driving my car, thus my increased familiarity with it was a good thing). We switched off in Vancouver, Washington, where my mom called one of her friends (local to there), but we wanted to press on.
I’d forgotten the exact way to get to Renton, where I’d had excellent gluten-free pizza at Smoking Monkey Pizza in the past. So we missed that. Oops. Found another place with Yelp, Amante Pizza & Pasta. The pizza was good save for being overcooked. (This can be a problem with GF pizza because cook times are different.)
We hit some bad traffic in and north of Seattle, but it pretty much cleared up well before the border. It took about ten minutes to cross. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that many questions crossing a border, not even when I went to Vancouver for dinner last year. Not even in Bermuda or Liverpool. Kind of annoying, but okay.
Finally let us in, then we found the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. Checked in on 4sq and got a funny response from BC Ferries. Our ferry to Nanaimo (home of the famous Nanaimo bar) took two hours.
From there, it’s about 100km (60 miles) north to Courtenay. We arrived there just before midnight.
I’d done some internet surfing and found the Holiday Inn Express in Courtenay, which is a pretty sweet place with decent breakfast, though of the Hampton Inn style. It also has free wifi, which is even more awesome.

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Kate Bornstein Needs Your Help

20 April 2014

Note: Fixed link, which was broken initially. Oops!
I don’t know how many of you know who Kate is. I’ve known of her for quite a few years, but it was only a couple of years ago that I realized she was also an ex-Scn.
Here’s a long piece in the Village Voice written when her book A Queer and Pleasant Danger came out. Long story short: she’s one of the few trans* people to come out about their experiences in Scientology, and the first to be really public about it. She transitioned in the 80s. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she legally changed her name to Kate on the very day that L. Ron Hubbard died.

Kate describes, perhaps better than anyone has before, what it was like to become a dedicated Sea Org member during Scientology’s more freewheeling heyday. – Tony Ortega

Of the Sea Org members who’ve worked directly with L. Ron Hubbard in some capacity, Kate’s the third to write and publish their story. (Nancy Many and Jefferson Hawkins are the other two.)
Anyhow, she has lung cancer. Or, more accurately, her lung cancer’s back. She’s got a fundraiser going on. If you’re inclined to donate, here’s the link. If not, I recommend her book.
Kate’s Twitter, where you can verify that link comes from her.
Kate’s blog, which is currently down due to a Typepad DDoS.
Here’s a video of Kate reading from her book.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4781uQv7fE

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It's Hugo Nomination Reaction Day

19 April 2014

The Hugo Awards
The Hugo Awards site has the full nomination list.
Look, I don’t vote in every category every time. I will be voting in a category I haven’t voted in before, though.
Natalie has some commentary (and quite a few comments) over on her site.
Me?
I vote for the work, not the person, but there are some people I’ll put last in the pile to read. If I run out of time before, oh well. Let’s just say that I’ve bounced out of the work of those on the slate that I’ve tried to read before and leave it at that.

What Am I Most Excited By?

Randall Munroe being nominated for Time.
Gravity.

What Omissions Am I Most Bummed By?

James Mickens.
Sharknado.
Yeah, I know. There are a lot of other things to complain about.

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Writing and the Critical Path

19 April 2014

As someone who’s spent my whole life working mostly on one large project after another, you’d think novels wouldn’t be as hard for me to write as they actually are.
I had this glimpse into why: I generally had a sense, at all times, whether something was on the critical path—or not. There were desired features and planned expansions, but building them wasn’t part of my initial task. So there were clearly things on the critical path—and not. Generally, there was at least something of an order: I need to get pretty far along in X before I can test Y, so let’s write X first. I can work on Y if I’m stumped on X.
In a novel, generally all of the planned scenes need to be written because they’re interwoven. It’s all on the critical path.
Non-fiction’s different: some items may be optional. If they’re not written for the book itself, they can be re-used in other ways, like website content or newsletter content.
So I don’t necessarily have a sense of what I should work on next. The list is too large. Since I write out of order frequently that makes the problem set too large.
I’m going to have to think about this.

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Trip, Day 1: To Eugene

17 April 2014

We’re going to be going over mountains, so I take the special meds. I hate it with a burning passion, and you’ll understand why in a bit.
I take it because it increases oxygen concentration in the blood, which means less altitude sick. I get altitude sick in a ten story building. Only a slight exaggeration.
Four thousand feet is where I really start to feel it, though. Since I’m doing a lot of the driving, I take the damn meds.
I am not a morning person. I have not truly ever been a morning person (I quite literally lack the gene), but the last few years in particular I have especially not been a morning person. I was saying that to a friend who got run over by a car last year, and she said, “Because the pain meds have worn off!”
Exactly. That is why.

Every single day, it’s a challenge. Can I get part of my pain meds down before I make breakfast? Will I throw up my coffee? (Thankfully, that has not actually happened in a long time, but most mornings I’m nauseated from pain.)
I’d set the alarm for 10, wanted to leave by 11. Woke up at a quarter after 9 and packed. We pulled away at 11:11, which I consider close enough for government work.
Let me back up for a minute. When I was coming down the steps on our front porch—typically, doing this in the morning is my biggest physical challenge—in a race with a sloth, the sloth would have won. Honestly.

Fairfield: The Jelly Belly Factory

My mother, long a lover of jelly beans, has never been to the Jelly Belly factory. I’m not sure how that happened, but we decided that we had three places we could stop, and this was one we picked.
Why the able-bodied need to put photo op things and places where people should stand to take photos crossing the line from the handicap parking to the door, I’ll never know. I hear an irritated cluck. Look, it’s not my fucking fault that the big jelly bean is put in the wrong place, but I’m visibly having difficulty walking today. You think you could be more human and hold on a couple seconds without being irritated at something I have no control over?
Well, okay then. Well, not okay, but whatever. It’s on you.
We wander through the jelly beans. I think a grand total of two or three minutes has passed since I shambled (no exaggeration) through the front door and evaded the large group of people standing in line for the tour. Which, frankly, sounds like pure hell to me on a day like today.
My feet are on fire they say. I look down. There is no visible evidence of same.
I feel the weird electrical current that runs along my upper back. Left to right, then right to left.
It’s the altitude sickness meds. Diamox. Acetazolamide. There’s no good way to put this other than: it cockblocks pain meds. All pain meds, apparently. From personal experience, it blocks 75-100% of the effectiveness of everything I’ve tried.
Currently, with the myofasical pain, my leg muscles are so incredibly tight, I can barely walk, especially in the morning. Later in the day, I’m almost human, and sometimes my walk can pass for normal. Today is not one of those days.
I move as quickly as I can to the register (about 15 feet), plead with the lady there. Either I need to check out, or I’m dumping my item on the register counter and leaving. I’m not being mean; I desperately need to sit down. By this time, I’m white as a ghost and visibly shaking.
I’m paid up. Trying to leave. A kid darts in front of me. I’m like Gigantor with a bad hip algorithm, shambling with an odd gait I have no control over. When I’m like this, kids terrify me. I have nightmares that I trip over one and crush us both. I can’t stop or turn easily, nor can I stand easily. A slow walk is the only thing that keeps me from falling over. Kid’s mom pulls the kid back, and I sigh relief. He stares at me with huge brown eyes. I’m just as afraid of him as he is of me.
And—people do not understand. Sites aren’t laid out for people who are simply mobility impaired, especially where walking farther is a challenge. As an example, if there’s a good railing and four steps or fewer, I’ll usually take the steps rather than a handicap ramp simply because it’s shorter.
When I open the car door and plop in, I can’t do anything for about a minute. Finally, I start the car up.
We skip the second possible stop.

Corning: Olive Pit

Neither of us could remember exactly where the Olive Pit was. Collectively, we got the details right, though I did have a few mixed in from Granzella’s, where I’d never been.
I’d been there before, but I also remembered that the last time I’d bounced right back out. Given my experience earlier in the day, I wasn’t feeling very confident about it.
Still, it’s later in the day, my pain levels are a bit better, so I walk in. I manage to taste a couple of things, but I can’t even get to consider what I might want to buy before my feet are on fire again. Mom takes more time picking out her selections, but I head out to the car, once again white as a ghost and shaking. The store clerk brings out her jars of olives. Very nice of them.
By the time she’s back, I’ve recovered.

Dinner in Medford

We couldn’t find the place we’d eaten before, so we ate at a Shari’s just past most of Medford. I ordered a no-bun burger with their amazing stuffed hash browns, which are gooey and evil and you should only eat them if you like awesome things.
It was only a few more hours (argh) to Eugene, but that’s where we’re spending the night.
Tomorrow night, we’ll be on Vancouver Island.
Thankfully, I don’t have to take the evil altitude meds tomorrow, and their effects will have mostly worn off by morning.
Can’t. Wait.

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O, Canada

16 April 2014

Mom and I are going to drive up to Canada.
I’ve driven to Seattle before, and I’ve driven from Seattle to Vancouver before. However, the next stage is the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, which I’ve never taken (I’ve always flown).
I’ve also never been to Victoria before, so I’m excited that we’re going there, too, probably on the return. We may have some time for a quick visit on the way up or back, but I’m guessing that our timing is going to pretty much miss anything of interest in Portland. Seattle’s more possible.

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For Authors Who Do/Want to Do Direct Digital Sales

16 April 2014

Please feel free to repost. Or, if you know of other, similar posts/threads, to link to them in comments.
If you’re an author doing direct digital sales from a web site you manage/control (meaning in addition to whatever you’re doing through Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Direct2Digital—or whatever)…

Questions for Authors Already Selling Directly

  1. What method are you using? Gumroad? Shopify? Easy Digital Downloads (plus WordPress)? WooCommerce? Sellfy? Some other?
  2. How’s that working out for you, and why did you make the choice you did?
  3. If you’re willing to share this information, what percentage of your total sales are direct sales?
  4. Has it been worth the hassle for you?

Questions for Authors Considering Selling Directly

  1. What programs have you looked into?
  2. Do you have any questions about the process?

For those who wonder why one would do such a thing, there are two primary reasons:

  1. If you have more than one thing to sell, you can offer custom discounts.
  2. You can offer them subscriptions to your email list; third-party vendors are completely transparent to you.
  3. Higher pay and faster payment.

For example, selling via EDD on my own site for a $3.99 book, I’d take home $3.52 today. If I sold the same book on Amazon, I’d receive $2.79 sixty days after the end of the sales month. For Nook, I’d receive $2.39 sixty days after the end of the sales month. For iTunes, $3.52 45 days after the end of the month. For Kobo, if the amount owing is > $150, then they pay monthly, otherwise every six months.
Obviously, $3.52 today sounds better, but it does require a savvy enough customer to sideload the book (drag to their reading application).

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Myofascial Pain, Fibromyalgia, and Arthritis

12 April 2014

For some years, I’ve been struggling with mis-identified causes of pain. It was believed that I had arthritis and fibromyalgia. Period.
As I’d been arguing, that covers less than half—and probably less than a quarter—of my pain most days. I finally have an accurate diagnosis: most of it is myofascial pain.
Both have sore spots, but the myo ones are where nerve enters muscle, and irritating them usually refers pain to a specific area. Fibro points tend to be near joints; irritating them doesn’t refer pain—but can make the whole body hurt non-specifically.
Put them together: irritate a myo trigger point, myo radiates pain to a fibro point and then you feel crappy all over. Win.
The really interesting thing for me is that I’ve known for years that my pain was inflammatory, and fibro isn’t (and myo is). So that answers that question, too.
The good news that now I have a real treatment plan.

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