2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,300 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Done (not really)!

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

Yes! I made 52000-plus words. Iʼm done (not really). The reason there hasnʼt been a post for months is in the past now.

NaNoWriMo 2013 — won.

Morte Saison isnʼt half finished at this point — really just a lot of (nearly random) scenes and sections, not even tied together, and certainly not complete. Thereʼs a ton of work ahead. But this year (even more than last, which topped the utter crap I churned out in 2011), I feel like I have gotten quite a lot accomplished. I am even looking forward to more writing and lots of editing and revising ahead.

Right now, it feels wonderful not to worry about getting in hours of writing time for a day or two (and definitely catch up on unfinished and unwritten letters and blog posts — hey, I still have an entire vacation to write about).

Anyway, year four complete. Iʼll add the little winner icon to the sidebar soon…

(Even better, we have our Christmas tree up and decorated — and all the lights have lit!)

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

The Tourist Imprisoned

Recently, The Lovely One and I returned from vacationing overseas. The transatlantic experience spawned the latest installment of The Tourist’s mayhem…

wpid-floorfig13-2013-10-29-11-11.jpg

Lies, ladies and gentlemen, all lies

Every time I have to do it, I hate flying more than I had before. The airlines seem locked in a death struggle to determine which brand can devise the final sadistic imposition on passengers that will at last prevent anyone from ever flying steerage again. Or simply never flying.

That imminent day resounds with sadness, but corporate profiteering edges the dire knell of the skyfaring businesses nearer with each deliberately overcrowded, crammed and undernourished flight.

Recently, domestically, I furtively smuggled a seamstress’s cloth measuring tape in my pocket — dutifully removed to pass microwave fullbody scansion, along with keys, change, watch, personal detritus and pocket lint — and used a minute portion of its length to measure my allotted confinement space: 21 inches from backseat ahead to head rest (less by nearly six when the careless cad ahead dismally and pointlessly reclined his so-called “backrest” eight minutes into our heavenly ascent), almost 9 inches from seatback ahead to front edge of my euphemistic seat “cushion” (less with egophilic jerk’s reclination, but only by an inch — sufficient to make the safety drill’s assurance of a flotation device beneath my economy seat merely a taunt, at best a contortionist’s impossible dream; from armrest to armrest a minuscule 16 and 3/4, possibly of suitable proportions when I was in my (early) roaring twenties but no longer (and my own somewhat bulging belly added its own girth to that measurement), and my corpulent seatmate oozed her bulk intrusively well into my euphemistic “space” and sweating flesh throughout, the decisively lowered armrest proving no barrier to unwanted intimacy whatsoever. Although officially in sitting position, my space, especially once the overhead lighting quenched to keep us docile, put me in mind of tyrants’ notorious “standing cells,” my movements restricted nearly to nil.

Therefore, I devised the demise of the purser who refused my request for any available liberation, who even declined to disturb the selfimportant fore-ass’s pseudoreclining position as it was after all, “resting period.” Well, I put a period to that. And while we were straightjacketed in the air as well.

That’s the start of that. More on the trip (the actual vacation) ahead, friends and family…

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Work 2013

logo_aphis_ppqIf it isn’t obvious (because I have actually begun writing stuff and making posts here on old Wak’s Blog again), my seasonal summer employment has ended. And, no, not because the Griefstriking Obfuscating Perverts enacted their wish and shut down the U.S. federal government (even though, as a seasonal employee of the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine, the feds are my employer) — because I was already (or almost) on hiatus status before the Grumbling Obvious Prevaricators pulled their stunt pointlessly (but politically) amending the continuing budget resolution with unrealistic but base-fiddling amendments that in no way were or are seeking “compromise” of any kind.

In fact, I removed my last trap during the morning of Tuesday, September 3, then cleaned and restocked the GOV and stopped earning salary — except for the year-end return of vehicles, supplies and equipment on Monday, September 23. (So if I were really industrious, I should have been able to present many posts by this time. I didn’t, however, do so.) There was a special drive to let the office acquire my actual vehicle (so it could be sold, evidently) in exchange for an empty Jeep that I finally returned later. And we all had one last packet of training to complete as well. But, excepting a few hours and just a few pence, work for 2013, for me, ended with the start of September.

Gypsy Moth (image Wikipe

Gypsy Moth (image Wikipedia)

This past summer, as I noted in advance, I had a much vaster emerald ash borer region to trap. But with only 95 traps, even spread over nearly twenty counties, most of my work with the EAB program was driving, and I could accomplish the whole circuit in just about eight days. What kept me busy was a, more or less, new program (for me), trapping for Gypsy moths. (I had assisted with GM both summers I had already worked, but all that assisting only added up to about eight days altogether.) And although I only had two and a quarter counties to cover, my GM traps totaled more than 300. So my job shifted hard in the direction of Gypsy moths. (I even caught one. Yes, just one.)

The summer was exciting for me, though. And the excitement lay with the EAB, which is now definitely spreading into Iowa. (It had already done so, into one county, Allamakee, the summer I was hired, and two more beetles were found there in 2012.) I do not get the credit for spotting the new outbreaks because I didn’t find them. The bigwigs of my own organization and the state pest control had already determined that trees in Burlington and Fairfield were infested, but I was ordered to drive down there (three times in the end) to check the purple traps those important folks had set. I found my first catches of emerald ash borers from both trees, in each city!

I realize I shouldn’t be excited about such bad news (including my one-and-only Gypsy moth, discovered on my penultimate trapping day of the entire summer), but it did stir my blood to find what we are looking for (but hoping not to see).

Otherwise, the big news from work was Sequestration furlough: we each had to take two weeks off without pay (thanks once again to the Glory-sucking Officious Politicians). This season was also shorter than the past two, thus diminishing my earnings in the first place (four months rather than nearly six).

So The Lovely One may (in reality, genuiney does) have visions of me finding a job for the colder months ahead…

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Long-Awaited?

hotmailSo I haven’t posted here in over three months. My stats indicate daily visits are down under ten. Yet, mysteriously, I have nearly thirty notifications in my e-mail of new followers — all with hotmail addresses and none of whom appear in the list of those following the blog here on WordPress. What’s up?

Facebook LogoOn Facebook I recently have been fed up with dextremist garbage and periodically respond to the wickedly wrong crap that gets posted. For many months, perhaps even a year, I’d held my, ah, typing fingers, attempting, unwisely, to be “fair.” Once I post contrarian comments, the blitz of ghostly followers… Coincidence?

Probably.

Yet I wonder.

ghost iconAnd I am again, however briefly, and/or sporadically, back. Unlike, currently, the U.S. government (ridiculously pretending to “defund” the ACA has nothing to do with continuing resolutions in lieu of an actual budget, Greedily Opportunistic Poopyheads).

Happy, spectral new “fans?”

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Going Modern (Maybe)

I’m trying something new here. Once again I am dictating; however, I’m not talking into a microphone on my computer.

Normally (and previously) when I created blog post, I’ve been working on my iMac. And I’ve either been typing directly into WordPress online, using a browser, or I’ve tried various programs from which the text is sent to WordPress online. Using Scrivener, I had to export as HTML, open in a text editor, copy from there, and paste the HTML code into the online WordPress nonvisual text window. It worked pretty well – mostly because I like Scrivener a lot. But the process was klunky and required many steps. Then I got the program MacJournal in a bundle, and when Chronories became defunct with Lion and Mountain Lion systems, I started trying to keep a little journal in the new program. And one day, fairly early on, playing around with the menus I noticed its blog publication and tried it. It worked! From thereon at least the beginning steps of my blog publication always commenced with MacJournal.

Of course I have not been regular in the past couple years putting anything on the blog, but I have at least been playing with it.

With my bug trapping job returning this summer, and me being on the road overnight for even more days than last year, I began to feel really cut off in hotel rooms in the evening. Although My Beloved had expressed a definitely alternative, negative opinion about my solution, I knew what I should do for myself. I wanted a tablet, an iPad.

And with money coming in, even with thousands spent already for our vacation this fall, I decided I could do what I wanted. So I did.

Our Kindles have been such a pleasure for us (a little more on that, maybe, to come, as there have been some issues with The Lovely One’s Paperwhite) that I thought a tablet and the ability to get online when away from home would be a wonderful thing in my life. Our lives.

Last fall, when we were in Santa Fe for vacation, we used the “experimental browser” on the Kindles to check out restaurants and other possibilities while we were in our casita. The browser, definitely experimental for us, worked better on her Paperwhite than on my basic Kindle. I realized then that a tablet — for me, meaning an iPad — would probably be a good idea. Both at home and on vacation (or on the road alone, working, as I originally indicated).

And Apple is probably getting ready to release an improved (Retina-screened) iPad mini right now.* So prices have been dropping. Somewhat.

Somewhat temptingly…

the Mini shooting itself

the Mini shooting itself

Yeah, we all guessed it: I bought an iPad mini. (Don’t tell Her-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed! Okay? She doesn’t yet realize it, even though I used the mini to find a late-night restaurant and check weather, repeatedly on that latter activity, when we were in Des Moines for brother Paul’s ordination into full eldership among the United Methodist clergy. — I suppose she thought it was just the ole Kindle’s old experimental actually working…)

And for the past five or six weeks I’ve been adding apps and getting used to the little thing and what it can do. It has been fun and useful to check email and Facebook on those nights away from home, and I’ve even found a few fascinating little applications that enhance my life and inform and entertain me.**

However, the point of my post today is not the device but its latest app — the WordPress app.*** I’m talking to that app as I write, and it will be the system I use to get this post up (at least we hope so). So far it’s working pretty well (note an issue or two in footnotes below). And it’s been kind of fun, wandering about the house, anywhere I want (untethered by cords or Bluetooth range), talking out my erratic thoughts.

So now let’s see if I can add a picture and my usual formatting and get this thing up. I hope you are reading soon!

(Yep. So I clicked something and published a little ahead of schedule while getting the photo. Itʼs edited now, ten minutes later.)

* With my eyes, I bet I’ll never see the difference (what I’ve got looks pretty clear to me; and I seriously somehow doubt/know that video and gaming will [not] increase in my life in the next decade — the typical Wakdjunkaga lifespan for devices, based on admittedly limited prior experience).

** Perhaps there are some blog posts on iOS apps that could come. Maybe…

*** Surprising, and annoying that the app doesn’t seem to recognize its own name when I say it. I had to correct two words, “word press,” into the name of the site and the program WordPress. (And yet again.)

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Old Times

In my last post, I suggested that my string of stays in hotels (for work) had prompted me to thoughtfulness, or at least reflectiveness. Hereʼs one such reflection (just about literally that) from May 15, written, while dining alone, during that long lull between ordering and receiving your meal… Even a glass of wine doesnʼt relieve that self-conscious, solitary tension.

hotel-key-courtyard_328_detailI am so old that I still feel I should turn in my room key(s) at the front desk before departing. Nowadays, with time-stamped digital pass cards, that step for checkout is unnecessary, even silly. But I remember well temporary possession of a real solid (often too large) physical key, the return of which (capable of opening the room in perpetua, or at least until the locks were changed) was of paramount importance, and so checking myself out without returning my means of ingress seems… incomplete, perhaps even unsatisfying.

I can recall vividly my first pass card — which we received in Hawaii, on Oahu, in downtown Honolulu (at some beachfront high-rising tower of a hotel that I am sure that Janet, were that she were with me, would yet remember by name — they had a Tiki restaurant in those distant days before Tiki bars again became kitschy cool; we ate there one night and brunch on the rooftop Sunday). I think our Hawaiian trip was in 1988.*

Upon arrival, somehow the only available room was in the antiquated, low-rise (low-rent, undesirable ghetto) side-portion of the hotel. However, if we accepted that musty accomodation for our first night, we could enjoy a beach-view, balconied, expansive chamber for the remainder of our stay. Exhausted, at late afternoon (I believe), it was an irresistible offer, particularly considering the minuscule rate my (lovely) travel-agent traveling companion had wangled (for rooming on the city-view side — of no comparison to our [eventual] Waikiki-viewing suite of [until then, at least for me] unparalleled elegance). The first night we acquired a familiar blocky brass key, but our subsequent 21st-storey aerie required a keycard. Which I had no idea how to use.

Previously, even in paradise (Fiji, that prior time**, where we blissfully enjoyed the islandsʼ [then] utter lack of television — but another story there altogether***) I got into my room with a practical, physical (analog?) key. What was this credit card theyʼd given us?

Fortunately, my bride, so worldly and so much better traveled than I, had the idea of this lodging novelty item pat (which makes strange her more recent behavior with keycards — never inserted quite the right way). She gained us admittance to our boudoir in the sky in skillfully masterful fashion. With practice (and patience) I got it right, too.

In those days (with my first pair of prescription sunglasses just for that trip) that electronic pass card seemed like the (sci-fi) future astonishingly realized in my mundane present reality: I had stepped straight into a John Brunner novel and expected the crime-solving immortal Karmesin to be in the lobby (a refraction of my actual experience colored, if not shaped, by my digital rereading of his excellent, classic The Squares of the City, which was originally a brain-boggling, mind-expanding barely pubescent reading experience from my sisterʼs mature [non-Hardy] library****). I felt expansively expensive and privileged for our whole stay.

Now, of course, the keycard is just another shoddy annoyance — the electronic validation always going bad about twenty hours before checkout time arrives.

So it goes. So it goes.

hotel key* Although The Lovely One and I tried to make a list of our trips year-by-year a few years back (five or ten) that I have extended and updated, I couldnʼt find the document just now — fat lot of good Spotlightʼs endless usurping of my computer does me.

** 1985, perhaps?

*** for that ever-promised, seldom (if ever) delivered future post… perhaps

**** and yet another possible topic for another possible blog… yet to come… perhaps…

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.