Sunday, 15 March 2015

Theft, Time and Trudging

The word of the week is resolute.

March 9 – Trudgery

It's probably going to get a little boring here over the next six months or so.

Can't be helped, sorry.

I'm going to be consolidating, in many senses of the word, going home from my day job to write and back again, to repeat as needed until I have my trilogy complete.

That’s not going to leave a lot of time for other things, as I see it.

Looking back at my first novel, I made the most progress when I was working on it every single day without fail. At the time, that was made possible by my being unemployed, where my focus was split only two ways: writing and job-searching. I was productive enough to complete a workable first draft in less than six months and I've learned a lot since then. The next two drafts were also completed with months of continuous work, focusing on the writing and little else.

I realize that distractions, however much I think they are necessary, are not helping me towards my ultimate goal of completing my trilogy. I have to simply toss out the extraneous, with the occasional social foray to keep my mental balance and buckle down on what matters to me now.

By the end of 2015, I want to look back and see that the vast majority of my time now earning money at my day job this year was spent writing. Not mooning over hopeful relationships, financial problems I can’t solve with more worrying or all the other little distractions of projects that I’d like to get started / finished /researched etc. I just need my focus to be the writing.

Knowing that, I’ll consider the time well-spent, no matter what else happens.

March 10 – Now I Get it!

Sometimes you need to simplify, especially on the topic of money.

Finances have been on my mind of late, for as some of you know, I’ve been carrying some burdens for a while. 2015 has seen me take much better control of them, but they’re still there. It amazes me that some people have no idea how money works, even in general terms; I don’t claim to be a whiz at financial management, but I do have a decent overall grasp of the system.

Even if it doesn’t work for me at present.

For those of you who wonder how banks, credit unions and other Money-Things Mysterious work, fret no more: the folks who helped make the newer Hitchiker’s Guide graphics to the rescue! Treat your peepers to this lovely anigraphic and you’ll never again wonder where money goes to work:

March 11 – Homeworld is mine!

Well colour me astonished!

Last week, I received an email in the early morning hours, advising me that the Homeworld Remastered Collector’s Edition was suddenly, finally available for purchase in Canada. I popped onto the website immediately, saw that there was still stock and ordered one… and it was confirmed!

Seeing as the HW Collector’s Edition had sold out in the USA months ago, I was a bit agog, but grateful: somehow, the Canadian release had been delayed and I’d managed to score one! Copies have been going on eBay for silly amounts for months based on demand, and by paying attention this morning I’d managed to be one of the first in line for the few Canadian copies. Have a look at what the price / availability had gone up to by the time I arrived back home from work 9 hours later a week ago:

I love the game, but not for THAT price - come ON ?!?!?

I almost never buy Collector’s Editions of games, PC or otherwise, but Homeworld-RM is an exception – especially as this edition comes with the above-pictured foot-high model of the mothership, which lights up! I have many fond memories of Homeworld, for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s an almost perfect game with Chris-Foss inspired spaceships. I’m going to savour the art book that came with the Collector’s Edition; I just love the art of this game! Lots of inspiration for my creative side to turn into ideas for my books. Thanks to the modding community, anything is possible – have a look at this Homeworld conversion to make a Star Trek massive space battle possible:

Too bad I couldn’t write it off as a business expense. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to soon! In the meantime, I’ll only be able to play it on my laptop at low resolutions, as my main PC’s all wonky with games right now… which is a good thing, as I need to write. I think I mentioned that earlier.

March 12 – Say What?

Okay, I’ll admit it: I was stuck for something to say here. It happens, albeit rarely for me.

I could have told you about some neat articles I discovered about writing this week, but that's a little niche for people who read my blog( thanks for dropping by, by the way! )so I pondered for a bit. 

Then I thought: how about something simple that’s cool and g33ky, with a hint of nostalgic?
Enter: the drone speeder bike! Have a gander at the wonder a g33k hobbyist who loves Star Wars can create:

All I have to say now is: where can I buy one and can I add a speed booster somehow?

March 13 – Unlucky

My bike was stolen today.

It made me realize that yes, theft can happen to anyone, even to someone as careful as I am.
My bike was securely locked up 1 foot away from the main entrance door, a well-lit area with lots of people around all the time. My guess is that a pair of pros used a HUGE set of bolt cutters to get in and out in 60 seconds, sometime in the dead of night – there’s no filing or shatter residue( ie. hacksaw or liquid nitrogen used on the lock ). Have a look at how easily giant cutters eat locks:

It’s gone, and there’s little chance I’ll ever get it back. Most stolen bikes end up as parts.

On the one hand, I’m extremely pissed off; the quality lock I always used might as well have been a pretty fabric ribbon. I had the bike for 7 years and in the last year, I spent probably another $200 on top of the $400 adding new tires and a tune-up to get it in shape for the next 7 years. Money wasted. Sure as skinny they can’t sell it whole, due to the overall ‘disrepair’ and surface rust I encouraged to discourage theft, which obviously didn’t matter to these scumbags.

On the other hand, I am able to walk to work now, so I’m only in for a long hike of an hour round-trip for groceries… or anywhere else I don’t want to take the bus. And I dislike transit, for reasons I’ll not get into here. What’s really been violated here is my freedom. I can’t just ride any more when I want to go somewhere: now I’m dependent on transit, or my feet, both time-wasters. There are many other victims out there who know how I feel right now, some of my friends among them.

Today’s theft has taught me that yes, I have to be EVEN MORE prepared, and cautious than I have to date. That’s so immensely frustrating, as I stress so much about forgetting that one little detail that ends up tripping me up that ALL the details start to get muddled and I’m still screwed. Perfection, as they say, is unattainable and for 2015, so is another bike: I don’t have any place secure to store a replacement. I can’t afford a decent $200-$400 model, nor will I eat my pride thanks to faceless thieves by trying to make do with a $50 junker and end up even more angry than I am right now.

That’s the thing: a theft like this leaves you unable to do anything with your anger, save redirecting it into purposeful energy and not letting it eat at you as disappointment in how I ‘failed’ … I didn’t fail, I was robbed. The only failures in this situation are the criminals who took my property.

Anyway. I’ll be updating my insurance info, writing down wayward serial numbers on newer items and general preparing for the next disruption, whenever that happens.

March 14 – It's Pi Day, but I don't care...

Not having wheels of my own any more, I spent the morning going around, dropping off ‘Stolen Bike’ leaflets to every bike store and pawn shop in Victoria( thanks Dad! ). It was a lovely sunny day today and I felt much better, as most of my anger has fled to be replaced by resignation… and a determination not to let some faceless scumbags ruin my spring.

I’m still here, sans wheels, and I have a lot to do this year. I’ll just have to be even smarter about using my time, now that some of it’s going to be wasted in walking or busing. So I told myself...

It’s funny, in a way, when I think about hearing other people mention their bikes were stolen over the years. We put a lot of value on houses, on the material things they contain( and the same with cars ): they’re our personal space and when that’s violated by theft, we’re shocked and hurt.

Bicycles, well… why can’t you just buy another one?

That seems to be the feeling most people have towards bike theft and it’s odd, given that many of the bikes out there cost $1000 or more. If someone stole a TV from my home or a computer worth that much, the theft wouldn’t likely be downplayed. My bike meant a lot to me, in that it was my freedom to go where I pleased, when I pleased, in a manner that saved me time and was healthy.

Unfortunately, all that came crashing down on me again this afternoon and I struggled for hours to turn my feelings of anger and frustration into something more useful. I wrapped up a few minor tasks around the house, then went to sit on the patio at Moka House for a few hours in the sunshine, listening to Enya and sipping tea. I finished some editing feedback for Monday’s critique group, all the while not thinking about my lost bike and ignoring all the happy people biking around on Cook St.

Yeah, that’s going to be hard to take this summer, with all the bikes around Victoria.

On the way home, I stopped at the little video store nearby for a movie; I asked a clerk for suggestions and he pointed me to a movie I didn’t know existed: About Time, from the makers of Love Actually. An odd choice when I’d asked for a romantic comedy, but given the funk of angry I was barely holding in check, I went with it.

What a great choice, by chance!

I won't spoil them before you, but I will say that by the end I was in a much better mood than when I had started watching. There was the point anywhere in the movie where I was knocked out of the experience and that's fairly rare for me.

Perhaps it's exactly what I needed today and I'm quite thankful that the movie found me.

March 15 – Relative-ity

It's been a few years since I've seen any of my family from out east. Not since 2013, in fact, which considering that I live on the other side of the country isn't all that long, I suppose.

All the same, I grew up with a large and very social group of relatives in Niagara. It seemed that I was always over at one house or another with my extended family when I was younger, all the way up until high school started taking over my social time and the visits faded away to regular holiday traditions a few times a year… not counting funerals or marriages, of course.

This week we were gifted with the visitation by one of my father's two sisters, who was only too glad to take a few weeks to visit us here in B.C as a break from the heavy grip winter has back East.

Visiting with her today for lunch over at my parents place, it was very easy to slip back into the old patterns and imagining myself slipping back a few decades to visits to my grandmother's house. Crowded in with many cousins, aunts and uncles, we'd catch up on each other's lives and in an era long before e-mail or FBook.

Listening to my aunt stories today, I heard some tales that had not come up before about my grandfather and other relatives. Being the age that I am now, I realize that these are the sorts of conversations that you can't have until you get a few years of life experience under your belt so that you can understand the importance of knowing about your family’s past and so relate it to your own future. Being a writer, I stayed quiet for most of the afternoon, listening to my sister and mother chat with my aunt and quietly reveling in the simple joy of having family visit us out here.

Sooner or later, I’ll manage to get back to Niagara, to visit my friends and family. I realize that the old days of crowds of relatives packed into my grandmother’s house are gone; everyone’s getting on with their lives( those that haven’t passed on already )in various cities scattered across the country. There are fewer of the ‘old guard’ left now and so for today, at least, I smiled as I heard a familiar voice conjure up pleasant memories from our shared past.

I'm not back to balanced yet concerning being robbed, but I'm better, thanks to my family and to About Time - perspective and moving on instead of brooding are my watchwords this week, as I say goodbye to another old friend and get on with my life as it is.