Archive | March 2015

Dying By Inches

To me, one of the worst things about chronic depression is how it robs me of my desire to do anything in general, and writing in particular. And nothing demonstrates this better than the fact that my last post was on March 11.

And here it’s March 30 already.

No, the depression hasn’t lifted; it’s just that I’m forcing myself to write, in much the same way that some people have to force themselves to get out of the house, or eat, or bathe, or get dressed, or even get out of bed.

The fact that I can do all of those things makes me feel better about myself. When I think of how much worse off I could be, I hear my father’s voice in my head saying, “I used to feel sorry for myself because I had to shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet.”

Depression. We all have our pet names for it. Winston Churchill referred to his Black Dog. For others, it’s the Wolf at the Door. For me, Charles Baudelaire said it best:

“When low skies weightier than a coffin-lid
cast on the moaning soul their weary blight,
and from the whole horizon’s murky grid
its grey light drips more dismal than the night;

When earth’s a dungeon damp whose chill appals,
in which — a fluttering bat — my Hope, alone
buffets with timid wing the mouldering walls
and beats her head against the dome of stone;

When close as prison-bars, from overhead,
the clouds let fall the curtain of the rains,
and voiceless hordes of spiders come, to spread
their infamous cobwebs through our darkened brains,

Explosively the bells begin to ring,
hurling their frightful clangour toward the sky,
as homeless spirits lost and wandering
might raise their indefatigable cry;
and ancient hearses through my soul advance
muffled and slow; my Hope, now pitiful,
weeps her defeat, and conquering Anguish plants
His great black banner on my cowering skull.

Charles Baudelaire, “Spleen”

Oh, I’ve heard all the advice. “Snap out of it!” “You need to cheer up.” Two things you need to know: Telling someone with depression to “snap out of it” is exactly like telling someone with cancer “Stop having cancer!” And telling me to cheer up makes as much sense as telling an insomniac to try to get some sleep. IT JUST DOESN’T WORK, AND IT ONLY DEMONSTRATES YOUR IGNORANCE.

I would love to “cheer up.” I would love to “snap out of it.” But you see, there’s this little issue of fucked-up brain chemistry (that’s the latest theory, even though there’s really no scientific evidence for it) that keeps me down. Yes, I take my medications regularly. Yes, I’m exercising and eating right. I’m doing all (well, okay: most) of the things I’m supposed to be doing, but sometimes the only thing that works is time.

And the older I get, the longer it takes to recover from a down cycle. This time it’s been almost three weeks. Next time will be longer. And the down cycles come more frequently. Fortunately, they still only plant their “great black banners” a couple of times a year, and I manage to get through them okay.

Hell, this time I didn’t even need to call the ambulance like I did the last time.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Well, Rosemary and Thyme, anyway. Specifically, Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme, the two women I’ve fallen in love with over the past couple of weeks of watching “Rosemary &  Thyme” on Netflix.

Rosemary is a plant pathologist, and Laura is a former police officer. Together they operate a gardening-cum-landscaping business in England, and as seems to be the norm with British television shows, solve a new murder every week.

As is true with so many British imports into the US, the program is well-written, beautifully photographed, and well-acted; Felicity Kendall (Rosemary) and Pam Ferris (Laura) bring xxx years’ experience with them, and there is a wonderful rapport between the two actors.

I alternate watching the program with “Sherlock” (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman), “Poirot” (David Suchet), “Midsomer Murders”, and the occasional documentary. Based on the crime-novel series by author Caroline Graham, “Midsomer Murders” follows the efforts of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) to solve crimes that occur in the wealthy, isolated English county of Midsomer.

What can I say? It keeps me off the streets and out of the bars.

Last night Stacey and I went and saw a movie. “Interstellar” (directed by Christopher Nolan) starred Matthew Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway as two astronauts tasked with retrieving data from several intergalactic missions which had been sent out to find earth-like planets for the population of earth to move to, as the earth could no longer support life.

Without spoiling it for you, I will say that we both enjoyed it. We thought it was well thought and well acted.

Go see this movie.

Edited with BlogPad Pro

Dear Blog Spammers

Dear Blog Spammers,

You know who you are. The ones who keep posting advertisements for your services, thinly disguised as “comments.” You promise me riches beyond my wildest imaginations, and everlasting fame.

You know what? My imaginations are pretty damn wild, and none of them include you. Fame? I’m not looking for it, and that’s not the point of this blog. Hell, I don’t even avail myself of the advertising services I already know about, and the fact that I don’t should tell you something. There are already too many commercials on the web, and I’m not going to add to them.

That’s why you don’t see any pop-ups on my blog or website: I don’t like it when I go to someone’s page and get bombarded by advertisements and various other popups, and I’m not about to inflict them on my readers.

Let me explain how your advertisements work on my pages:

  1. You post your ad in a comment.
  2. I get an email notice advising me to moderate your comment. Yes, I have chosen the option of moderating all comments before they appear on the page.
  3. Irritated because I know your comment is spam even before I look at it, I open my blog’s dashboard and read your “comment.”
  4. Seeing that it’s only a sales pitch and not a real comment, I move it to the trash.

So not only has your advertising campaign been a waste of time for both of us, you have also alienated a potential customer for your services

Look, I’ve been on the Internet since before it was even called that. I’ve taught classes in HTML, CSS, email, and just about everything else associated with the Web. I’d even go so far as to say I’ve been at this a lot longer than you have.

That’s not to brag, but rather to make a point: I KNOW all about search-engine optimization. I’m aware of all the scams masquerading as “services.” If I wanted to increase my readership, I know how to do it.

When I started this blog, I promised my readers that I wouldn’t harvest their email addresses for commercial use. There’s already too much of that going on elsewhere. It pisses me off, and I know it pisses off a lot of other people. So I don’t do it. I don’t even maintain a mailing list. People are free to come and go as they please. They know my blog is here, and they can come read it when they choose, nit when I want them to. Hell, I can’t even remember if I’ve activated an RSS feed here or not.

The same thing goes for ads. Yes, I could probably generate some small income by putting targeted ads on my pages, and it might even be enough to cover the monthly fee I pay to have this blog hosted.
But that would mean I’d have to give up something: my integrity. A promise is a promise.

So my point to all of this is that whatever services you’re offering, I DON’T WANT! Stop wasting your time–and more importantly, MINE–in trying to sell me stuff I don’t want.

Hmm…I just had an idea: maybe I WILL start harvesting email addresses of those of you who spam me with ads, and then sell them to the get-rich-quick folks in Nigeria. You’re definitely made for each other. You certainly deserve each other!

Scrivener Redux

Sorry about the delay between blog updates; I’ve been busy writing.

That doesn’t make sense does it? Well, if you read my previous post about 750Words, it should start to clear up. 750Words has been a boon to my novel and story writing, albeit at the expense of blogging. I’ve been so obsessed with getting my daily writing done on 750Words that it’s completely driven blogging out of my mind.

But I hope today’s entry will make up for my sins.

In an earlier post I mentioned Scrivener. I also promised a more in-depth review of the program.

Scrivener bills itself as “[A] powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.”

Yeah, the standard product mumbo-jumbo. But behind all of the verbiage there is an excellent product, and I urge you to check it out for yourself. I’m not going to give a complete rundown on its features and uses; the website does an excellent job of that.

What I am going to do, however, is show you one way I’m using it: as a document warehouse.

I’ve created a project for 750Words. In the project, I’ve got several folders. There’s one for this year, and inside that folder, there’s one for each month.

Each month’s folder has one document for each day. And each day’s document contains that day’s entry on 750Words. Once I’ve written each entry on 750Words I simply copy and paste it into the 750Words project in Scrivener.

I’ve also got a separate project for my novel. This one is ordered by chapters. That’s one of the great things about Scrivener: it’s adaptable to just about any method you want. I’ve also got a separate project for short stories.

Scrivener can store everything I need for any given project: text, PDF files, graphics, flowcharts—you name it, Scrivener can handle it.

Yes, it’s got a huge learning curve, but if you’re like me and just start using it, you’ll find that learning it as you go isn’t that difficult. Besides, I’ve always been one to ignore the instructions and manuals: if I don’t know what a given program can’t do, I won’t find myself restricted by silly rules.

That’s pretty much been my approach to life: if I don’t know how to do something, I won’t be held back by what the “experts” say about it.

So give Scrivener a try. It’s available for both Mac OS and Windows, and you can download an evaluation copy to try for a month.