Despite the fact that I was just yesterday sent the most awesome origami pattern, I did not origam today. It was the longest of long days, you guys.

But! There was a bright spot, and that is LaughingAstarael's portrait of Colin and the Egret from Trace. It's coming right off the page! :D

She really put her finger, too, on some issues I've been having when she emailed me the link -- she said "You and Trace are not particularly getting along at the moment" which is very true. Really it's that me and writing aren't getting along at the moment; I always feel either thickheaded or tired when I go to work on a piece, and while I have made some headway with one story and am pushing along through another, it's hard going. I used to wonder why older writers were so fucking crazy and now I begin to understand, because I don't brush emotional stuff off the way I have done in the past, in terms of letting it affect the quality and quantity of my writing. But I honestly think I'm not writing much because I still feel a bit in limbo about this job, which is putting me in limbo as regards everything else. The one thing I've managed to complete is essentially a meditation on LIFE CHOICES. Subtle, Sam.

Actually some of it cracks me up, because a couple of people know I went for the job -- I didn't keep it a secret but I haven't been trumpeting it from the heights -- and they stop by my desk and ask me "Has there been any news?" with this amusing mixture of genuine interest and mild terror. I've been tidying things and adding procedures to our procedures manual, which really needed doing anyway, but it reminds me that I'm going to have to teach someone how to do all the crap I do, and it's all so idiosyncratic. There are four databases they'll have to be trained in, plus the general structure of the company, plus two separate accounting procedures, plus scheduling, and the phones alone are this maze of area codes, transfer protocols, and five different voicemail PINs.

But I suppose at least if I get the job it's all documented, and if I don't, I can take comfort from the fact that I won't have to train someone...
It's NAME CHANGE TIME! I have retired Blitzen Trapper's "Furr" as my header in favour of Vampire Weekend's "Oxford Comma". Although, for the record, I give a fuck about an Oxford Comma.

Anyway, new name, new lyrics, new blog title. I am prepared for spring! I even cleaned out my file cube and did all my dishes. And I have a new City Boy icon, because Claude from Heroes was getting old.

This being Chicago, where we routinely go from 20F to 80F in a week, I think Spring has been scheduled for a Friday this year.
This is a post All About Books. Books! Yay!

[livejournal.com profile] fitfool was kind enough to send me a copy of Cooked, by Jeff Henderson, which I would have finished a lot sooner if I'd remembered to bring it with me to Texas. Henderson is the Bellagio's first African American executive chef in Las Vegas; he came to cooking through a job in a prison kitchen where he was serving time for drug dealing, and Cooked is his story of how.

It's a pretty awesome book -- my usual critique techniques don't really apply, because it's an autobiography, but Henderson tells a very engaging story and it's fascinating to watch his life unfold. He talks about his childhood, his career as a crack cook and dealer, his prison experience, and his struggle to become a recognised chef despite a felony record and multiple encounters with racism in the kitchen. If you're looking for a really interesting read, Cooked delivers. :)

Second, when I won the Author Sales Contest at Lulu.com in November, I started chatting back and forth with a very nice Lulu employee named Josh, who invited me to do a short piece on "Sales Secrets" for the January newsletter. My Sales Secret: BLOGGIN.

(That's just a clip from the newsletter -- if you're on Lulu and would like to receive the newsletter, it's slightly difficult to locate but you can find signup instructions here.)

And finally, here is chapter four of Trace!

You all are exhaustingly thorough in your commentary -- which is not in any way a negative. I'm loving every minute of it and getting some really useful insights. But afterwards I often need a nap. :D
Okay, I have to admit, as much of a pain in the ass as this new security is, the building has done one brilliant thing: tied in the new turnstiles to the elevators. When you wave your access card in front of the turnstile that's in front of your elevator bank, the turnstile sends a message to the elevators and one of the elevators magically opens.

I am in awe, truly. We have seen the future, and it is now.

Today is still quite busy and stressful, so I don't have time to assemble the thoughtful, informative post that I wanted to assemble about Delicious. There's a good breakdown of Del alternatives here and a lot of links in my last post.

Things to remember:

1. Delicious is probably not going away TODAY. Do not panic. Try not to slam the other sites like Delicious with traffic. Back up your bookmarks using the export function and then take a deep breath and wait a few days.

2. If you are importing between Delicious and another site, be aware that there are flaws in the system. For example, Diigo does not import privacy settings. Any bookmark you import from Del to Diigo will become public. Other metainformation may be truncated: tags, long notes, etc. Check your bookmarks after you import, no matter which site!

3. People who are offering you information, like bookmarking-site links and news story links, are not offering free IT support along with it. Before you ask a question, stop and think if you can google the answer, check the FAQ, ask the website's tech support, or figure it out for yourself. They are giving you resources, not setting up an infobooth.

3a. If you're in the mood for some intelligent outrage along with your links, Warren Ellis has a pretty great post. (I find Warren Ellis entirely terrifying, but he does speak good common sense).
Places not to hold a job interview, a conversation about your medical problems, or a phone call: The corner of my desk. It's my desk. Only I get to sit on it.

In other news, rumours abound that Yahoo is killing off Delicious. If you don't use Delicious, this probably does not seem like a big deal. If you do use Delicious, well. Everyone I know who uses Delicious has said, Are you fucking kidding me?

I use Delicious a lot. I use it as a slush file for stuff to read later, a to-do list, and an info archive. I also use it as a source for finding new fanfic. I have four, not including my slush file delicious: tw_fic, extribulum, copperbadge, myreadinglist. And I use it because there is no program or website like it, anywhere, that I've been able to find. Even Google has nothing similar. But it's been ugly for years, is now ugly and only quasi-functional, and is soon going to be ugly, quasi-functional, and dead. So if you use any of the above delicious accounts as a resource, raid them now, because I'm killin' them myself soon. I've already backed them up to my hard drive. (Settings > Export, just in case you were wondering.)

So. As a public service, Cafe, has anyone got alternatives? Preferably ones as simple and fast-loading as Delicious, with a tagging system and a way to browse the tags of others (I find 99% of the White Collar fic I find by reading Delicious's open "whitecollar" tag). One was recc'd to me but I'm a disorganised human being and lost it, argh.

Have at it, kids.

(In other other news, today has been hellaciously busy; don't expect replies to emails you've sent me or comments you make until probably tomorrow night. Jesus BALLS.)
SAM JOUSTS WITH TECHNOLOGY!

I once, famously, posted about my dislike of DVDs in the same post where I did a meme about "what decade are you" and it turned out I was the 1930s. Go figure. (I still don't like DVDs for a number of reasons, but I have accepted their presence in my life as inevitable.) I've taken a couple of programming courses and failed them miserably; I taught myself basic HTML when I was fourteen and that pretty much gets me where I need to go most of the time. My family has an illustrious history of Not Reading The Directions, and while I do often Read The Directions I understand my mother refuses because a) they won't help her and b) if she can't learn by doing, she won't learn at all. This makes Christmas morning at our house VERY EXCITING.

As a family, our motto could be "Theory is for Losers". Ironically, most of my early non-fanfic writing was applied theory -- in college I made a habit of researching the structure underlying ancient theatre and writing modern plays executed in ancient and medieval structures. I won an award for one of them, so I must have been doing something right.

Anyway, all of this is pure anecdote because I thought you'd like something more interesting to read than "testing, testing" while I tested out a new method for posting. As of right now, I multi-post in Semagic across four platforms, but I'm realising that every time there's an error in a post I have to go into the two that most folks read and alter it. With Dreamwidth's automated multi-post function, I can fix something in one post and it'll update the others.

There should be absolutely no change in reading for people on LJ, DW, or IJ, except that now usernames which were formerly all over the map will be correct and standard, and my DW entries will be tagged. LJ is still my primary platform, and the rare photo and text posts from my phone will still go only to LJ (Dreamwidth doesn't have that functionality yet). Right now I'm just testing to make sure link coding, formatting, usernames, icons, and tags all work as they should.

IN ORDER TO TEST THAT, have some reccs! If they don't work, don't tell me, I'm on all three platforms and already working to fix the problem by the time you read this. Just go have a cup of cocoa or something and refresh in about ten minutes.

[livejournal.com profile] kayliemalinza wrote Calling In Sick ages ago, and it remains one of my favourite Ianto fics of all time.

[personal profile] blue_soaring's Iron Man fic, Cool Blue Reason, is a Jarvis/Tony fic that makes the best use ever of non-newtonian liquid. (I don't read a lot of Iron Man but I have a soft spot for Jarvis, to nobody's surprise.)

[archiveofourown.org profile] onyourmark seems to have completed The Elliot 'verse, a White Collar AU wherein Neal Caffrey is a deep-cover alias for a mischief-making FBI agent.

(Hooray. Links and usernames work! Tags and user icons work! Automated edit updates work! "Edit Last Entry" from Semagic doesn't though. Hm.)
Link for your Wednesday, via [livejournal.com profile] rm: "If you want to improve circulation, run cat pictures."

Carl Gossett Jr. was clearly a man ahead of his time.

Speaking of circulation, does anyone know a good Australian print-on-demand company? (Please don't google and send me links -- I've done that, I'm looking for reccs from folks who've used them, since self-publishing is only now emerging from the realm of conmen and racketeers.) CompletelyNovel are sweet kids; using Lulu and then using CN, CN just comes off as adorable, like a Mom and Pop store. But they won't ship to a lot of places, including the southern hemisphere. I'm contemplating cancelling them entirely, in part because I cannot find anywhere on their website, literally anywhere, that will let me set up payment information so that the money I make can actually be sent to me. Plus their postage is just plain not that much cheaper.

Ways I see myself, working on publishing... )

As a LOL to close on, yesterday I contacted a high-rise building in Chicago about looking at the condos they had for rent, since Mum wants me out of the cursed wasp building and I begin to agree with her, even if it means moving away from R. The website said "Call us at this number, or use our handy email form!"

So I used the handy email form, because I hate phones, and asked if I could set up a time to view the condos. This is the response I got:

Thank you for your e-mail. Please call our office to set up a showing.

Really helpful email response there, guys. Thanks for that.
I've spent the day trying to catch up on email (semi-successful), washing everything in the kitchen (partially-completed), and, oddly enough, reading Cartographer's Craft. I saw it recc'd somewhere recently -- on a bandom anon meme, of all unlikely places -- and thought it might be rather fun to look it over. I don't re-read my old fanfic, ever, in part because the really old stuff is humiliating compared to what I do now and in part because, well, you know. I wrote it. But I re-read it tonight and that was very, very weird.

Holy SHIT the navel gazing contained herein, seriously. )
Okay. I've written three versions of this post, now, let me see if I can do this correctly, because I don't have a whole lot of clue how to have this discussion with the internet, but I'm trying.

We need to talk about boundaries. )

Uh, as a postscript, bear in mind that I am exhausted and one tightly strung nerve right now. If any of the above sounds a little insane, it's because I'm a little insane. It'll be better soon, I think.
You can't hear me, but all morning long I've been sing-songing "Multitaaaaaaasking" under my breath.

Not that I don't normally multitask a bit, or rather -- no, it's not so much multitasking as sequence-tasking. I rotate through work. This morning, for example, I am clearing out my "things to examine" slush file on delicious and trying to catch up on my email backlog inbetween working on three different fanfics, correcting tweaks to CG, reading through the latest fic offerings in Sherlock and White Collar, and faffing about in my "daily reading" bookmarks.

And then there's work, but that's slow on the ground today, informative pamphlet about new security measures and mass email about "what you can do to prevent your packages getting stolen this holiday season" aside. I should never have let BossBoss discover that I can write coherently and break down complex concepts easily (necessary skill, because complex concepts and I don't get on).

I was going to say "It's not that I have a short attention span" and follow it up with an explanation of why I do this, but every explanation I come up with seems to point back to me having a short attention span.

It's finally cold enough out that I've unplugged the air conditioner, and in the evenings I resort to baking to keep the house warm. Today I made a thermos of tea, which doesn't really heat up the house but does keep me moving, and all morning I've been sipping shots of it from the cup.

It's herbal, though, so you can't blame my attention span on the tea.
Mum has gone out to run some Mystery Errand this morning, so I'm hanging out in the breakfast lobby catching up on email. Posting isn't strictly necessary; I've managed to keep you guys pretty up to date on my life, though I still wonder sometimes why this is so important to both me and you. But I like talking about myself and presumably you wouldn't be here if I didn't amuse, so I suppose in the end it's down to gratification, which is not a bad way to spend an hour or two a day. And blogging chafes less than other activities.

My mother and R have now embarked on a course of communication completely without my mediation, which is a little scary; they make social plans that include me without actually consulting me. Which is fine, because I'm not a fan of making social plans and if they both enjoy it god bless, but it's unnerving that I don't know what they talk about.

I've enjoyed having Mum here and touring around with her; we get on pretty well, especially now that we've established a few solid boundaries when it comes to Bernard, who was almost always the source of conflict between us (it helps that he now lives in another country). I've had a good time and I like it when Mum has a good time too. The trip has run smoothly, even the drive down from Evanston in the dark, and the drive back in the Very Dark, to see blues last night.

All that said, I'll be glad to be home tomorrow and sleep in my own bed.

First, however, it's a morning for museums and then sushi lunch!
I keep wanting to sit down and write about this stuff, and then I keep thinking, do I really want to? I don't know.

Thirty-one feels bigger than thirty, I think because thirty's a milestone but everyone acknowledges it's a milestone and mostly in this culture we also acknowledge that most socially-forced milestones are kind of bullshit. Nobody I knew in high school felt grown up when they got their driver's licence; everyone I knew in college didn't feel grown up until they had to make their first car insurance payment. It's the gritty little pieces of life that make you re-evaluate the whole. At least, for me.

And then I had a minor identity crisis in the shower this morning. )
Man, the rains have come.

There's something intensely strange about standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows on the 19th floor and watching the rain come down. It's really storming out right now, and there's this mixture of safety and vulnerability that kind of catches you in the throat. The rain's an inch away and clearly brutal, but it can't get in.

It's one of those things that I'm finding tough to vocalise; I keep coming across them, but I think it's because I like to pin things down with words and I've pinned down most of the stuff in my life, so now I'm chasing esoterica and trying to define it.

Perhaps understandably, this is not an entirely satisfying pursuit, but then I suppose the best ones never are.

Anyway: RAIN.
I am engaged in a war with the spambots. SPAMBOOOOOOTS! *fistshake*

This particular brand of bot is one of those ones that make you feel as if you're not even special enough to get spammed, you're just a test run to make sure the software's working. They leave a serial number in the subject line and a single sentence in the body of the message, no links, no ads. My favourite this time around is "Jonny was here" on a Doctor Who fanfic. I've now decided the Doctor's true name is Jonny.

I also had a tiny existential crisis today, incited by my parents making cinnamon rolls. They sent me an email with a photo of the cinnamon rolls and a text message to let me know I needed to read the email, so I logged out of Copperbadge and logged into my non-fannish gmail account.

I was logging back into Copperbadge when I looked at it and thought, huh, it's getting a little worn, isn't it? After all, I've had the same username the entire time I've been in fandom, or at any rate since I came back to fandom. I've had the same default icon for eight years, almost, surely people are tired of looking at that by now. I've had the same blog layout on LJ for almost that long, disregarding small tweaks here and there. Technically it's Refried Paper with colour adjustments but Octogenarian Lawyer is what it's been called at times.

Anyhow, I sat and thought for a while about what the hell new name I would pick if I did pick one, and what kind of new icon I'd have and all the rest. It's kind of nice to think about but in the end I'm pretty much a creature of habit and I've just got the damn thing broken in. Plus, as I am occasionally reminded, I've reached the point where both Sam Starbuck and Copperbadge are a brand, and I've always believed if you have a good brand you don't mess with the logo.

Besides, I can't for the life of me come up with a better default icon. :D
So then LJ blocked my IP!

STAY CLASSY, LIVEJOURNAL. YOU JUST STAY YOUR CLASSY ASS SELF.

Jesus at this point the migration to Dreamwidth can't fucking come soon enough. BTW, a bunch of us have codes so don't be shy, kids. You too can use a blogging platform that actually gives a shit about its userbase!

I realised that Dreamwidth could post to LJ when I couldn't, that's what last night's test was about, and then I realised that I could access LJ through my iPhone but only if I disconnected it from my router. Thus: ISP or IP blockage, and since my ISP is, you know, AT&T, probably not that.

So I disconnected my router, restarted it, reset the IP, and blam, functional LJ. IF YOU CAN'T SEE LJ, give this a shot. It's probably your IP that's the problem.

Because I could not see the results of the poll last night and I was very very tired and the shrimp had, in fact, already gone off, I made myself a sandwich. Sometimes sandwiches are best.

EDITED TO ADD: YES, I KNOW LJ HAD A DDOS ATTACK. And I'm sure my IP being blocked had to do with that. But LJ mostly recovered by yesterday afternoon, to the point where everyone I knew could both view LJ and comment; hell, I could do that from work. But at home I had no access. At all. No commenting, no posting, no viewing, no replying to other comments, consistently and permanently, and probably would still not this morning if I hadn't reset my IP. I couldn't get to www.livejournal.com, I couldn't get to a complaints page, and there was nothing about blocked IPs on their status page.
Good morning! My head is no longer threatening to explode! It's Friday and the temperature dropped about ten degrees in the night! And I have NEW NEWS for you all!

It is my very great pleasure to congratulate [livejournal.com profile] darthrami and [livejournal.com profile] strange_selkie on their impending BABY. A BABY YOU GUYS. Selk and Rami are dear friends and are some of the longest-running members of the cafe, AND THEY'RE HAVING A BABY. I would totally attempt to call dibs on godfather if I thought I was any kind of good role model for a child. :D

Anyway, because of the BABY SRSLY A BABY Selkie is setting up a side business to earn extra cash: TwoHotMamas on Etsy, a baked-goods-by-mail shop. But not just any baked goods by mail shop! I can attest personally to Selk's skill as a baker, and on Etsy she offers not only all-round good food but gluten-free, allergen-free, vegan, and parve pastries.

(She says to let you guys know that even though it says One In Stock for eveerything, she'll add another every time someone buys something, because Etsy has a per-item listing fee. So don't worry about that.)

So, if you buy some cookies you are helping buy nice things for a baby! Where's the bad here? NOWHERE.

A BABY!
Holy wow, you guys.

[livejournal.com profile] cassie_lee dropped me a comment yesterday to inform me that her house burned down but, and this is why she told me, her copy of Nameless survived.

I was focusing more on "Your HOUSE BURNED DOWN?" but she seems to be taking it with as good a humour as one can muster about these things. Everyone got out okay, and she has family nearby who are helping them out. She shared the news video with me, which is horrific and so sad, and then this morning sent me photos. (Having trouble direct-linking to that -- search "house fire" and choose the second story that comes up.)

This is her after having pulled Nameless from the wreckage.

This is Nameless, with a bit of fire blistering on the spine but otherwise whole.

My book is magic. I mean, I know theoretically what happens: books that are tightly packed together don't burn because there's no air between the pages to feed the fire. It's still stunning to see.

Not to make her house burning down ALL ABOUT ME or anything, but I had a very odd reaction to it, aside from the concern for her. My book is a story but it's out there spawning more stories, like people taking it on airplanes and meeting other people who've read it, and people reading it on breaks from their jobs or reading it to each other, and more than one person has written to tell me about their own experiences with suicide and how I treated it in the book. But this really whacked me between the eyes with a sense of "so this is part of what being published is": this person is standing in the wreckage of their home and holding up my book for me to see, because something I made survived a fire and she's happy about it.

That's amazing. I'm blown away.

Traditional publishing is a huge empire and that's grand and I'm glad it's there, but I think this is a powerful argument for access to self-publishing and someone to offer the tools for talented writers to use it. I made this, which I couldn't have done without a press like lulu.com, and it's got a life of its own now.

[livejournal.com profile] cassie_lee, if you need anything, you let us know. You want a new copy of Nameless, drop me a line, it's on the house. I'm going to print out those photos and put them on my wall.
Okay. Here goes nothing.

Let's preface this: I have been generally acclaimed The Internet's Cranky Old Man. You know that the things I say, I say with love. Vitriol, but love. It's a thing.

Reasons I Hate Twitter. )

Having got my dislike of Twitter off my chest, allow me to announce that I'm tweeting. OH WHATEVER STOP LAUGHING.

I do want to make a few things clear:

1. This is a broadcast account. I'm not following anyone on it. I can barely deal with the social politics of LJ, you guys!
2. Of the fifty-odd followers currently, only three were pre-informed: Foxy, Nick, and Simon, who talked/cajoled/shamed me into it. The rest found me randomly or through them.
3. I have been known to reply, but @ing me isn't a guarantee.
3a. Why yes, my icon is super awesome.

It will not be fed to my LJ page, because that's insanely annoying. But it's there, and having taken it out for a test spin in the past few weeks I appear to be able to make use of it on a regular basis. So if that's your bag, have fun. I don't get it, but I realised that I don't actually have to.

http://twitter.com/ouija_sam/
So, here's a question I should possibly have considered sooner -- if I import my actual LJ entries to Dreamwidth, which I understand hauls the comments along with, will the comments on the crossposted entries already there disappear? If I posted to both LJ and DW that aliens were invading, for example, and on LJ they freaked out while on Dreamwidth they welcomed their new antenna'd overlords, do both threads get saved?

Computers are a deep mystery to me, kids. It's all I can do to make my iPhone sync the way I want it -- ie, not the way Apple tells me I should want it. (They're some control freaks, aren't they? Maybe weren't hugged enough as children.)

I am also ignorant of CSS, which is a shame because my attention span for my rlist on Dreamwidth would be longer if it could look like Refried Paper. I get very set in my ways, change is hard. :D I could learn CSS, but that would involve an alien machine making me more intelligent than I am, and that never seems to go well. Viz: Reg Barclay, Rodney McKay, I'm sure there are others.

I am reading my flists again, both of them, and working on updating my list of, uh, accessees on Dreamwidth.

PROTIP: If your journal has a header that makes my browser crash, or is so large that when I open your journal I cannot see any text, you could be the next Buddha and I still would not friend you. Call me elitist, a blog should have words.

Actually, if you were the next Buddha, I would totally friend you despite your giant header.

Although I'm pretty sure the Enlightened don't have large headers. Fancy layouts aren't really their thing.
Coworker J and I got onto the topic of US presidents this morning and were googling around for information on Where Presidents Come From ("when two people are in love and wish to elect a world leader...") when we stumbled on a web article about America's First Newspaper.

The first issue [of America's first newspaper] on September 25, 1690, consisted of four pages. Only three had actual news printed on them. [Benjamin Harris, the publisher] left the fourth page blank for people to write their own comments or news on before they passed them on to neighbors and friends.

Sam and J: *lol*

It was a time honored practice among the thrifty Puritan folk to "share" subscriptions to almost any publication. Eric Burns in his book Infamous Scribblers, says, "This made Publick Occurences a source of interactive journalism a full three centuries before the Internet." Indeed it may be argued that this was the very first instance of a news blog in America.

Sam and J: *ENDLESS LOL*

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