Archive by Author | Robyn Jane

It’s That Time Again!

nanowrimo

Autumn is upon us, and most serious writers know what that means: It’s time for NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

If you haven’t heard of it, it begins in November every year. The goal is to write a novel (at least 50,000 words) in a single month. But don’t wait until November: sign up now to start getting tips, hints, and ideas before then.

It’s ironic that it’s called National Novel Writing Month, since it’s open to people all over the world.

This is my third year for NaNoWriMo, and this time I’m determined to complete a novel—something I’ve yet to do.

That’s the thing about the program: it encourages you to write, but doesn’t nag you about it. And if you don’t complete your book in the time allotted for it, nobody’s going to call you out on it. Some people—like me—take longer to write their stories. But even if you can’t complete it, at least you’ve made a start, and you can continue long after the challenge is over.

If you do finish your novel—either during the month or after—you’ll have the satisfaction that you’ve written a book!  It might not be the next Great American Novel, but at least you wrote it.

And that’s more than most people do.

Well, THIS Certainly Sucks!

I’m 68 years old, and as for as long as I can remember I’ve always come down with a summer cold. And this year is no different.

It started with me not being able to sleep through the night. I was up several times, feeling anxious for some reason. When I finally did manage to get some sleep, I woke up with a sore throat, clogged sinuses, and a massive headache.

There’s something terribly depressing about summer colds–besides the fact that it’s the wrong time of year to get them. Colds are for the winter, when we’re already so miserable that one more thing piled on top of the cold, the damp, the ice and snow, doesn’t make that much of a difference.

But the summer is supposed to be for fun, not misery.

And so sit surrounded by tissues and cough syrup and aspirin, feeling sorry for myself. Hey! Nobody else will do it.

It’s almost 80 degrees out, and here I am, huddled under a blanket, both sweating and shivering, wondering which of the many gods I don’t believe in has it in for me.

And I wonder if I should call my doctor and see about getting this year’s flu shot–or if this is the flu and it’s too late.

I hate being sick.

Technology Transfer and Me

“Technology transfer” means the transfer of new technology from the originator to a secondary user, especially from developed to less developed countries in an attempt to boost their economies.

But in this post, it means “all of the hoops I had to jump through to transfer my iPhone contents to a new iPhone.”

Some Background

My ex, her daughter, and I all have iPhones, for which I am paying. My stepdaughter is in a situation where she can no longer use hers, and so my ex returned it to me so that I can cancel the account and—we hope—no longer have to pay for it.

That was some 3 months ago.

This morning it dawned on me that (1) my 16 Gb phone is always running out of space, and (2) her 32 Gb phone has the amount of memory I should have gotten for myself, and (3) it would make sense for me to start using the iPhone with the greater memory.

And so began my journey through purgatory

Actually, it wasn’t that  bad. Just terribly time-consuming.

I had previously reset the phone, clearing all personal data and returning it to its factory-fresh state. When I put it on the charger to check the battery level, it automagically went into setup mode, the first step of which was updating the operating system to the latest iOS version. No problem—except that it took nearly an hour to complete.

Did I mention that I worked on Apple’s iPhone help desk on the day it was first released? We had had two weeks of intense training about how to handle calls, and how to distinguish calls that could be handled by Apple and calls that should be routed to AT&T—the only carrier originally. We also had no idea what the iPhone even looked like, secrecy was that strict.

Anyway, after 8 hours of handling calls, all of which were of the AT&T variety, only to have AT&T route them back to us, I went home, drank an Irish coffee, had a nervous breakdown—and never went back to the job.

So yeah, I know what frustration  is.

The Next Phase

After the iOS update, it was time to do the same with all of the apps on the new phone. The initial setup had copied over the icons for the apps on the old phone, but none of the applications themselves. That took another hour.

Finally, there was the matter of actually launching the apps and having to key in userids and passwords. That ate up another 30 minutes, because I had to look them all up on the other phone. I mean, who has memorized userids and passwords for all of their accounts?

And What’s My Takeaway From all This?

It’s quite simple: whenever you buy a new device, make sure it has enough memory. Think you need 32 Gb on your iPhone? Get 64. My new iPad was 128 Gb, and I’m already wishing I could have afforded more.

Here’s the rule of thumb when it comes to memory: however much you have is never enough.

Thanks for stopping by.

Robyn Jane

Goodbye, Scrivener

We’ve had a good run, but it’s time to say goodbye. I never used you as an actual writing program; I merely copied what I’d written in other programs and apps and pasted them in to you. So I was only using you as a place to store all my writings.

My first mistake was configuring you to use Dropbox. I wanted to be able to access you across all my devices. But that created a problem: when I launched you, Dropbox had to sync before you would open. And when I’ve got an idea for an article or story, 2 minutes is too long to wait.

So I deleted you from my laptop, after deciding that I’m never going to own a Macintosh, desktop or otherwise.

Instead, I’ve moved all of my files into Evernote.

Why Evernote?

  • Because I can install it on all 3 of my devices—laptop, iPhone, and iPad—and it will synchronize across all 3 of them.
  • Because I can fine-tune my settings to a degree that Scrivener never approached.
  • Because it has a smaller footprint, loads faster, and in general just does a better job of what I want it to do.
  • Because even if I leave my devices at home, I can access it on the web via the nearest computer.

Still, it Hurts

It hurts because Scrivener has been a good friend for the past couple of years. And like any other friend, it hurts to say goodbye.

But nothing lasts forever, right? Just as we outgrow certain friends, so it is with computer applications. And I’ve simply outgrown Scrivener.

An Aside

QUESTION: What’s the difference between an app and a program?
ANSWER: There isn’t any. Software publishers decided that “app” sounded sexier than “computer program,” and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

The Cremation of Sam McGee

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.”
The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert Service
From “Songs of a Sourdough

There is no Lake Lebarge anywhere in Canada. There is, however, a Lake Laberge. Robert Service used poetic license in order for it to rhyme.

It was in late April of 1973 when my friend Larry and I camped in the campground at Lake Laberge.

labergeAlamy Stock Photo

The Northern Lights

Have you ever seen them? “Those bright dancing lights that are the result of collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere.” (Northern Lights Centre)

I had first seen them in Anchorage, and then in Fairbanks. But here, with the sound-absorbing three-foot layer of snow, I could actually hear them crackling and popping. I had always thought them to be silent, but “there on the marge of Lake Lebarge” I learned otherwise.

Larry, sound sleeper that he was, slept through the whole show. When I woke up the following morning, he was gone! Sleeping bag, back pack—everything. He had packed all of his gear into the car and left a note on the windshield saying we was restless and decided to hike along the (Haines Highway) road we were following.

So I packed my gear, collapsed the tent, and headed down the road. I caught up with Larry after about 5 miles. I’ve never seen anyone so glad to get in out of the cold!

We continued on into Haines (Alaska), only to find that the border crossing was closed. No barricade or anything, just a big sign that we would be committing a felony if we entered our own country without checking in with Customs. Even back then, it was harder for a U.S. citizen to re-enter her own country than it was to enter a foreign country. So after weighing the pros and cons, we decided not to take any chances. We parked and waited the 2 hours it took for the Customs dude to show up.

I don’t know what his problem was, but he wanted to know just about everything about me. Where I was going, where I was coming from, why had I been in Canada, did I have a job in the US, and just about everything but my shoe size. Larry (who was a Canadian citizen), just had to show his driver’s license and was waved in. I wondered if the fact that both Larry and the Custom guy both had short hair and smoked a pipe had something to do with it while I, a citizen by birth—and with long hair, a beard, and smoking a cigarette—was put through the wringer.

So On To The Ferry

Once you enter Haines, the highways end. There are no connecting roads to the rest of Southeast Alaska. The only way to go any further is by boat or by airplane. And that meant the Alaska Marine Highway System. You’ll forgive, I’m sure, when I admit that as I write this, some 45 years later, I can’t remember which ferry we took.

After a stop at Juneau, we continued down to Petersburg, our destination. Larry later left to go commercial fishing, while I found a job, got married, and had my first daughter.

I never saw the Northern Lights in Petersburg, but I do remember snowshoeing across the muskeg by the light of a full moon reflecting off the snow.

Thanks for reading!