Saturday, October 31, 2015

Writing: A WriteOrDie NaNoWriMo?

I type 110 words per minute. Last time I tested.

That means that if you abandon things like, say, thought, I could do NaNoWriMo in 15.15 minutes per day.


There's a tool called WriteOrDie--application version and website version--that stimulates you to keep typing at top speed, and tortures you if you don't.

I could add a very, very small ration of thought and do NaNoWriMo in thirty minutes a day inside WriteOrDie.

It's essentially a stunt, but, somehow, I'm kind of liking the idea. I'm not sure if I have time for NaNoWriMo otherwise, and sometimes when I'm typing at full tilt, interesting things come out.



Of course, it's late. And I've had three caffeinated beverages and several pieces of early Halloween chocolate. Sanity may return tomorrow.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Writing: NaNoWriMo or no NaNoWriMo?

Can't decide.

I could work on the novel that just got darker. I've already started on it, but I'm usually a NaNoWriMo rebel anyway.

I could do the "NaNoBlogMo" thing where I try to blog fifty thousand words. Not fiction. Babbling.

I could just ignore the whole thing.

I could just set some other goal, like writing or blogging every day, but not the 1667 words that NaNoWriMo calls for.

It occurs to me that the purpose of NaNoWriMo--at least as I interpret it--is to encourage one to write willy-nilly, without worrying about any discipline other than pumping those words out. It's a goal that I approve of, for those who are inclined to perfectionism and won't call a piece of writing finished until it's polished to a high gloss.

That is not my problem.

So I could reverse the whole thing and try to force myself to write something coherent and somewhat polished, every day for a month. Not long and coherent and polished; there's a limit to the madness here. But something that isn't diary-like and isn't dependent on the context of the blog. My history with Girl Scout Thin Mints one day, thoughts about Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth the next, that kind of thing.

The odds of that happening are low. But I kind of like it.  It could be a plan for a very ambitious NaNoWriMo Rebel whatsit next year, if I pre-planned thirty topics. But I don't see it happening this year.

See, the above is only 240 words. Can I really write seven times that much every day for a month? It feels iffy.

I could just write free-association fiction:

Janet collapsed on the beanbag chair and stared up at the ceiling. Acoustic tiles. She started to count them, first across, then down, but lost track twice. How was that possible, after only two glasses of wine? Maybe they... ah. The doorbell. 

"Chinese food is here!" she shouted. " Can you get the door? I've fallen in the beanbag and I can't get up."

But, see, there I'm stalled. And it's just 61 words.

Can't decide.

Image: By Extraordinary. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rambling: Sunday Randomness

No, the picture has no significance whatsoever.

I still don't understand Twitter.

I fried two kinds of chicken. Actually, three. (Italian breadcrumb chicken fingers, panko crumb chicken fingers, and wings.)

I'm averting my eyes from the work week.

I may be catching a cold.

I'm watching Wonderfalls. It's a really good TV series. Sad that it didn't last longer.

The novel that I'm threatening to write just got darker, a decision that un-stalls several things but moves it away from the cookies-and-balloons novel, with friendly mild conflict between well-meaning people, that I was imagining. It's not as if I'm a cookies-and-balloons writer anyway, though.

I just bought several yards of toweling (the kind for nice dishtowels, not terrycloth) to make napkins, an apron, and some harvest bags.

I should fold some laundry. But I don't wanna.

I also made cookies. This is not the healthy nutrition weekend.

The current Wonderfalls episode is talking about cheese. You'd think I couldn't get hungry any more today.

Well, cheese and the Devil. Not directly linked or anything.

Y'know, I really should like Twitter.  It's short-format, immediate-feedback writing, and I used to like that in online roleplaying games.

The second picture has no significance either. I'm just adding free-association photos to the free-association babbling.

The third one looks like he thinks he's significant, right? Those bug eyes and all.

We were going to go harvest the pumpkins from the farm this weekend. It didn't happen. Maybe tomorrow.

I did harvest the melons. The ones we grew on the Farm. They're occupying an entire refrigerator shelf. I should eat them. Or give them away. Or reject them. The first one we ate was merely adequate.

I should plant the shallots. That was supposed to happen this weekend, too. Also the garlic. My garden plans are behind, because my knee got angry. I'm not quite sure what I did to it, but I think it was that Saturday when I tried really hard to get a shovel into really hard soil. It's getting better now. And the rain is coming soon.

Bug-eyed cat looks doubtful about something, doesn't he?

That might be all.

First Image: Wikimedia Commons
Second Image: By Pluton76. Wikimedia Commons
Third Image: By Julia Volks. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Neighborhood Sample Pass: The Sequel: Round One: Two Faces of Serge Lutens: Chergui and Bas de Soie

A lot of colons in that title there.

So if you're a regular reader of my blog, you may be saying, "What sequel? I've never heard of this Neighorhood Sample Pass thing." If you're a participant in the previous Neighborhood Sample Pass, you may be saying, "Blog? What's this blog thing? Are you going to try to make me click on ads and buy a vegetable chopper?"

If you're both, hopefully you'll be un-confused instead of doubly confused.

No ads. No vegetable chopper. I just figured, I write for the sample pass,  I write for the blog, why not combine them?

Clash of worlds! Aiieee!

Ahem. OK.


In 2012/2013, I organized the original Neighborhood Sample Pass. I made up ten(?) little baggies of fragrance samples and decants, each with a theme, and gave each one to a friend in my neighborhood. (My often-discussed Postal Regulation Phobia ruled out including friends not in my neighborhood.) Said friends sniffed for a couple of weeks, then passed their baggie on to the next person in the rotation, until the baggies had made it all the way around, and the first pass was ended and I announced my plans to start a new pass.

Time passed. And passed. And passed some more. And suddenly I want to do it again.

This time I'm doing it as a sort of "perfumes of the month club". (But I'm sticking to the original name anyway.) This time I'll choose two or three or four perfumes and make up sample-sized decants for all participants, so that we can all talk about the same perfumes at the same time. This involves far less bookkeeping, and is nicely flexible.

First round! Bwahaha! Only two scents, because I'm temporarily short on decant bottles.

The Perfumes: 

Serge Lutens is both a man and a Paris perfume house. In my mind, the house balances on the line between niche and mainstream. Many of the fragrances have the delightful strangeness of niche creations, and when one of them is not strange, that fact often results in criticism from the online perfume wearing community. But the line is fairly frequently sold at department stores, which makes it feel not so much niche to me.

Now Smell This classifies Serge Lutens as niche, and I don't argue with Now Smell This on matters of definition. Or much of anything else. You can read their background for the house here. They also have a page (here) on Christopher Sheldrake, the nose behind many (most? all?) of the Serge Lutens fragrances.

Marla, in Perfume-Smellin' Things, asked "So do you like the warm, North-African amberfest Serge Lutens, or do you prefer his cold, austere, Northern European perfumes?" Inspired by the question, I've offered one of each.

My first choice, Chergui, is classic Serge Lutens. To me, it's pipe smoke, honey, leather chairs, and musty house. It's complex, spicy, syrupy, very popular, and moderately strange. And Lutens is supposed to be strange.

I discussed it here, and then went into the old-house vibe that it gives me, here. It's also discussed at (links! links!) Bois de Jasmin and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Perfume-Smellin' Things again and The Non-Blonde and Parfume da Rosa Negra (scroll down for the English version) and Perfume Patter and Now Smell This and Kafkaesque Blog and Olfactoria's Travels and Australian Perfume Junkies and The Fragrant Foodie and EauMG (video!).

The second fragrance, Bas de Soie (translation from the French: "silk stockings") is far less strange. It's a floral, primarily iris root and hyacinth, and it's pretty. Normally, pretty does little for me, but this one... When I first sniffed it, I classified it as one of the house's "well, they have to produce something conventional if they want to pay the bills" scents. Meh. And then, the very same day, it dragged me back; I couldn't say why, but I had to have it. And it keeps doing that to me; sometimes I shrug, and sometimes I want to dive into my own scented skin and I wear it for days on end.

My main, enthusiastic but short, post on this fragrance is here. For more detail, try (more links!) The Scented Salamander and Grain de Musc and Bois de Jasmin and Perfume Posse and Cafleurebon and Perfume Shrine and Perfume-Smellin' Things and MakeupAlley and Now Smell This and The Fragrant Foodie (scroll down) and I Smell Therefore I Am and The Non-Blonde and Megan in Sante Maxime and Olfactoria's Travels and EauMG.

First image: Wikimedia Commons.
Second image: Wikimedia Commons.
Third image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Wordless...Monday? Mary Tyler Moore

We're watching the special.

(Yes, six days late.)

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Rambling: Bits and Thoughts

Write. Write write. Write.

What about?

I'm debating whether to do NaNoWriMo this year.

The tomatoes are still tomatoeing. When I said that they were petering out, I was wrong.

We have a dozen pumpkins. A nice even dozen. Unless a little one's hiding under the leaves.

The seed garlic and seed shallots got here. Gray French shallots. The ones that I faintly remember are/were/will be removed from Hortus Fourth? Or did I make that up?

I'm reading three books simultaneously. How to Fly a Horse: The Secret of Creation, Invention and Discovery by Kevin Ashton, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz, and Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Make a Difference by William MacAskill. And I read Felicia Day's You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). I suspect that if I dug in the book stacks, I'd find more books in work.

We saw The Martian. Pretty good. A movie with science and no obvious "Seriously?!" errors. I didn't know it was a book. Heh.

This is not the most engaging blog post I've ever written.

I'm just saying.

And, worse, I didn't actually write it today. On Sunday, that is. I wrote most of it several days ago, didn't like it, left it to get stale, and came back today.

I do that a lot. I checked, and I have ninety-nine "draft" posts in this blog's queue, and another nineteen in Rambling Chicken's queue. Remember Rambling Chicken? I sometimes wonder if it would have been better to merge my blogging over there, instead of here. Rambling Chicken is a slightly less whacky name than ChickenFreak's Obsessions. I keep wanting a less weird name. Or a more cleverly weird name. Or something.

I'm looking through the draft posts. One consisted, in its entirety, of two sentences:

"Yesterday I fried chicken. Today I wore Cristalle."

You'd know that was me even if it were unlabeled, right?

OK. That is all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Rambling: Creativity versus rewards and praise, and another rant about blogging

So, I was recently talking to a  friend (Hi, friend!) about the research that suggests that rewards suppress, rather than encourage, creativity. A week or three later, I ran into the same idea in the book How to Fly a Horse.  The book discusses a few experiments and facts:
  • Children who were rewarded for writing stories wrote less creative stories than children who weren't.
  • Adults who were rewarded for creating collages created less creative collages than adults who weren't.
  • Adults who were told that their collages would be evaluated created less creative collages than adults who weren't.
  • Woody Allen wants nothing to do with his Academy Awards.
  • Einstein avoided Nobel prizes.
(By the way, I want to know why collages keep being the creativity activity for adults in these experiments. Is it because most adults can use a pair of scissors and a glue stick, so they reduce unwanted differences based on skill?)

I was thinking of all of this in the context that if you want to create an environment that encourages creativity, you may want to keep rewards out of it. And then I came to an abrupt conclusion:

Micropayments have destroyed blogging.

I don't actually know if it's a valid conclusion, and "destroyed" is a big overstatement, because there are lots of good blogs out there. But I have griped, many times, that it's essentially impossible to have any discussion about blogging without that discussion turning toward, not blogging, but rewards for blogging--readership and pagerank and ads and Adsense clicks, and all of those numeric metrics that can add up to making more money from ads or selling products or selling the blog itself.

Many bloggers chase that reward, focusing the entire blogging effort on increasing their Adsense payments from enough money to buy a burger a month, to enough money to buy a burger a week. The entire value of what should be a joyous creative-effort is reduced, in perception, to a few dollars. And if the reward stays at a few dollars, or in fact never goes above a few pennies, they feel stupid, like they're suckers. 

Even when a blogger doesn't actually care about money, the measure of a blog is still often based on the measures that produce money--readers, page views, pagerank.

What kind of sucker has a glorious, joyous time creating and offering their creation to the world, without demanding that they get paid for it? After all you get paid when you sing karaoke, right? You get paid when you invite friends to dinner, right? You get paid when you sing carols at Christmas, right? You get paid for those great cookies that you take to the potluck, right? You get paid when you have a fascinating conversation with a friend, right?

Oh. Right. You don't. And, yes, I'm descending into sarcasm. I'm annoyed. Blogging is an opportunity for absolutely anyone to create and share their creations--words, photographs, pictures, videos, whatever. But because, in theory, a blog could result in a financial reward, blogging is weighted down with reward baggage that discourages that creativity.

No, it doesn't discourage it for everyone, or at least it doesn't destroy it--there are great blogs out there that have ads on them, so obviously having ads doesn't keep you from having a great blog. I'm sure that for some blogs, the ads are what makes the blog possible, either by actually paying a wage to the person who does the blogging, or by paying for some of the expenses of the blog.

But the idea that creating for free makes one a sucker, is one that annoys me. And the standard measures of a blog encourage that idea. So I rant.

That is all. I may, in a later post, engage in the more nuanced discussion of creativity versus reward that I intended when I sat down to write this post. But apparently I had to rant first.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Perfume: Another Take on Seasons

So, I've posted (hereherehereherehere and here) about the effect that the seasons have on my fragrance tastes. Traditionally, the pattern has been that as day lengths shift after the solstice, I gradually lose interest in perfume, and then as we're past the curve and roaring into the next season, I get excited again. Well, that's how I remember the pattern; not all of those posts agree. This winter is a new twist--as we edge into the seasonal turn, my interest in perfume is climbing, not falling.

I want sweaty or dirty or syrupy perfumes. Right now, I'm having a strong craving for MCMC Kept. (I'm in Portland, where most of my perfume collection isn't.)  I'm also eager for the right occasion for my shiny new birthday bottle of Papillon Salome, which Now Smell This just gave 7 on the skank scale.

And I'm thinking that I really must get another bottle of Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose, because I don't want to run out someday.  And after reading EauMG's review of Thorn & Bloom Orange Blossom, I'm craving it without ever having smelled it.  (But Thorn & Bloom wants fifty dollars for samples. Meep! Also, meep!)  And I'm craving the freshly-bathed-soapy-cat smell of Caron Alpona.

Dirty perfumes. Mmm.

Image: By Dwight Sipler. Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rambling: Rambling



It's "I haven't posted in too long" time. So I will now present a few paragraphs of random digressions.

The farm is petering out. The beans and cucumbers and tomatoes are still producing, but halfheartedly. The honeydew are saying, "Harvest us, already." So are the delicatas. So is the basil. The kale is a cabbage moth convention. The zinnias and cosmos are still pumping out flowers, and the lettuce is breathing a sigh of relief at the cooler temperatures. So are the strawberries, come to think of it; I keep being surprised that strawberries don't seem to like suffocating heat.  Oh, and there are pumpkins! A dozen, if I counted right.

As best I can recall without actually looking at the garden plan, I think that the next step is to plant the garlic and shallots, and more lettuce. And some perennials that could be planted almost any time between the time that the rains start and the time that they end. Well, the sooner the better, for all that nice winter root growth, but no special time. I imagine some winter Saturdays spent alternating between putting perennials in the ground and then warming up as I reorganize the shed.

Except that I should also spend those Saturdays gardening around the house. And decluttering. And writing fiction. And...well, you know. Are there really people who wonder what they'll do when they retire? I'd like to retire today, thank you.

I just saw a commercial with a woman who looks startlingly like Lammily. You know, the Barbie substitute with something nearer human proportions. She's pictured in this post. No, not the yawning cat. Scroll down.


Apparently that is all.