This Is A Public Service Announcement

I know a lot of folks out there are upset with WordPress for changing over to the new “block(head) editor.”   For those “Classics” like me who prefer the classic editor and are driven nuts by the “new way,” here’s my WordPress work around.

  1. Create a new post, give it a title, then save it as a draft and x out of it.
  2. Pull up the blog again, click on the “W” in the upper left corner to get a drop-down menu and choose “WP Admin.”
  3. From the “Posts” menu, choose “All posts” which brings up a list of posts.
  4. Find the one that you just created and select “classic editor” and go from there.

It’s called “The Columbus Method.” Going east by sailing west. I think WordPress changed things to make it easier to create posts using smart phones. By doing so, they made it harder for everybody else.  It’s the revenge of the millennials. Resistance is Futile.

(Of course, now that I’ve posted it, those yahoos at WordPress will remove the classic editor altogether.)

I Made Good on My Threat

I’ve been threatening for some time to gather all my prose writings into one place, and I’ve finally made good on my threat.  The new blog is called “A Box of Special Things.” Not only does it collect bits of creative writing posted in other places, but there are two new bits never before posted.  So, if fiction is your jam, hop over and take a look.

Ooops! and Ughs! and Ows

No, I didn’t fall or anything.  I was trying to disconnect and move my Kingpad tablet from the bed table to my reader table that’s in my “knitting nook” I was trying to move it on the stand, realized the stand was under the component keyboard, and while I was sorting that out, the tablet flipped over out of the stand, bounced off my night stand and ended up on the floor.  The screen was shattered.  Kaput.  Unsalvageable.  It was only a little el cheapo off brand tablet (I think it was like $80 bucks including case and tax) that I got because it (a) had twice the screen size of my 5th generation Kindle Fire, (b) had an android OS so I could download the Kindle app to it, and clencher: (c) was WAY cheaper than the Kindle Fire that had the same screen size as the dead tablet.

The reason I bought the Kingpad tablet at all is because I read so fast.  The Kindle Fire’s 7 x 5 inch screen doesn’t display enough text (less than half an actual page at a character size large enough to see easily) to keep up with me and I end up poking the screen to turn the page, like, every 20-30 seconds, which would be fine if I only read an ebook every once in a while, as I did back when I had more space and less money and ebook was the cheapest or the only available format I could get of a book.  I could buy two to three used “dead tree” (paper) books for the price of one ebook so I went with what gave me the most bang for my bucks.  But now space is way tighter than money and I’m tending more toward ebooks, only buying a real book if I know it’s going to be a “keeper” (Foreigner series (or anything else) by C. J. Cherryh, Sebastian St. Cyr books by C. S. Harris, Liaden books by Lee and Miller, Elizabeth Bear, Neil Gaiman, Patricia McKillip, Sharron Shinn, etc.)

We’re talking serious reader here.* I’m on my 80th book of 2017 right now (a reread of the penultimate October Daye book by Seanan McGuire, to refresh my memory for reading the latest book in that series, which I will probably start reading immediately after).   When you read a book at a sitting, or read for a day or two straight, all that poking gets to be a PITA**.  The tablet was 11 x 7 inches, and I could get almost a whole page on the screen at one time.   As much as I love the Kindle Fire, the 7 inch screen is just too small.  I don’t need all the bells, lights and whistles, or a gazillion GB of this and that.  An el cheapo tablet is all I need, since all I use it for is reading, listening to music (as I read) and watching the occasional YouTube videos.  For any other computer functions I need, (like blog reading or writing, creative writing, or other things that entail mousing and keyboarding, like working jigsaws) I use my desktop.

Anyway, I bought one. (and a protection plan!) My mom is going to gripe at me for spending money on something I don’t “need.” But she also doesn’t like me (wasting money) buying actual books (even though I can get multiple used paperbacks for the cost of a single ebook, which is from $10 to $30 depending on the book.) because I don’t “need” them either.  I have no space for them and end up keeping the one or two I want to reread, mailing the rest of the decent ones to my 1st cousin removed x3, which my mom also looks askance at (my 1st cousin removed x3 is a also a reader, like me, and we have similar tastes in reading matter.  I remember how hungry I was for interesting books when I was her age (13), and I’m doing some paying forward here, so I do it anyway), and donating everything else to Friends of the Library.  But when you’re on a fixed income and can read 100-140 books a year and have no space to keep them, something has to give.  Oh, and the city library in this ultraconservative, Bible-belted,  two-horse town doesn’t have the kinds of books I enjoy reading.  I know.  I’ve looked.

A little rantlet begins here:  Almost without exception, the scifi and fantasy books I read growing up had cis white male protagonists (mostly because they were mostly written by cis white males for what was assumed to be a reader audience of cis white males.)  (Even the cleverly disguised Andre Norton had to write those kind of books).  There was never a protagonist that was like me in any of the books I read, one that I could directly relate to.  Very rarely was there ever even a female character with agency, never mind a female protagonist, with or without agency. If there were any females characters at all, they were there to scream, be rescued, and patted on the hand by the strong manly white male hero. Slowly but surely, this has changed for the better.  But it has been only in the last ten or so years that books with strong female characters with agency, and books with characters who are not only non-white but non-straight have become easy to find.  Of course, there are some authors, C.J. Cherryh and the late Ann McCaffrey, to name two, that were ahead of the curve.  Reading the Morgaine trilogy in the 1970’s was for me the most incredible (and refreshingly novel) experience.  And then reading her Cyteen books.  Yowza! (No wonder Cyteen won the Hugo!)  And Ann McCaffrey’s Pern books (which are, alas, written by an author all too indoctrinated with 1950’s sexism from the perspective of a modern reader, be warned).  A female protagonist and dragons — what an unbeatable combination! Whenever I run across one of these books with a strong female protagonist with agency, and it’s a good read suitable for a 13-year-old, I put it aside for my 1st cousin removed x3.  I want her to be able to read the books that didn’t exist when I was her age, books that have protagonists she can easily relate to — women who are smart as well as intelligent, who can solve their own problems, and rescue themselves when needed.  There are a lot of attitudes in our society that need changing if we are to move forward into Human adulthood (we’re still hopelessly mired in the terrible tweens!).  I’m just doing what I can to see that one more strong, levelheaded, secure in herself, clear-eyed female will be able to join the ranks when the baton is past into her hand.  Here endeth the rantlet.

And with no segue whatever, my doctor’s visit with the orthopod yesterday went pretty much as anticipated.  The VA neglected to forward my MRI or even the doctor’s report on it.  He took his own x-rays.  Seeing my two knees side by side on the x-ray was rather disheartening.  The right knee looks perfectly normal with a normal layer of cartilage.  The left knee shows no cartilage to speak of.  Just the big leg bone grinding into the two little leg bones with no padding whatever, which is why the medial meniscus has little tears in it, because there’s also no cartilage to keep the ends of the bones steady and they’re skidding a little as they grind, chewing on the meniscus as they move.  Arthroscopic surgery is pretty pointless as it cannot address the problem of no cartilage left.  That means it’s knee replacement time, but I have to call it, as in telling the doctor that my quality of life has become intolerable, do it already.  He gave me a steroid injection in the knee (it’s been over 14 hours since with no change in pain level) and has prescribed physical therapy.  I hope the steroid lasts until Friday when I have to drive clear over to the other side of town,  hike two miles from the parking lot to the University Medical Center  building and another mile to where they do mammographies (thankfully, they don’t do mammography in Amarillo, or it would take all day and four hours on the highway to get one instead of most of a morning).  While I’m in the Radiology Department I’ll get a copy of my MRI on CD and hand-carry the stupid thing to my doctor, and bring him a copy of the report, too.

But, here’s the thing.  They have now finally managed to hire an orthopedic surgeon for the VA hospital in Amarillo.  My special dispensation to see a local doctor went through the week before they hired him or her.  If I can get this doc I’m going to now to agree to replacing my knee while I’m on clopidogrel, but before my time limit on this authorization runs out, then I think it can be done here.  If I have to wait until next March, when I can get off the clopidogrel,  or if the VA gets all bureauocratic on me, I’ll have to have it done in Amarillo and face the same damn bureaurocratic stone-walling and transportation problem I have now, or else eat what Medicare doesn’t pay.  BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

In the knitting news, I did finally write that bottom-up triangular shawl pattern. I’m not exactly content with it, but I like it well enough not to frog the lot and go back to the drawing board. The sticky bit is that shawl point. It has a knit-as-you-go edging, and that bit of edging at the pointed bit needs to be piece-of-pie shaped in order to lay right. I haven’t yet worked out to my satisfaction how to get the decrease-to-point proportions right. But, hey, that’s what I love about knitting. You never stop learning. Every new thing you make is a learning experience, and each time you make something, you add some new skill or design element to your knitting repertoire that recombines and morphs into new things, and your whole knitting thing just evolves. It’s like, “Oh, I see how that works now. The next time I do this, I’m going to change this bit, or do it differently here. . . .”

*109 books read in 2014, 151 books read in 2015, 125 books read in 2016.
**PITA – A pain similar to that of hemorrhoids.

Goings and Doings and Hats

Oh, my.  It’s fooled around and gotten cold on us again.  I feel almost guilty because the northeast is taking such a pounding, and we’re just not even all that cold here.  Still, we’re more than cold enough to suit me. Here’s our five day forecast: And for the Celsius crowd. . .We’re having a “blew” norther.  Mostly it’s just windy and cold.  Again, for perspective, my town is at roughly the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco — Africa!

I was going to do a blog post sooner, but I got to playing around with a little scenario about three days ago, and the first thing I knew, I had three pages of characters and two chapters.  Sometimes I publish little short pieces in my blog.  I haven’t published any in this iteration, but there are some here from my blog archives.  There used to be a website call Magpie Tales where the lady would post a picture or photograph and we would have to write something inspired by it (Mag Challenge).  She went on to other things, so I’ve been challenging myself — although it’s not much of a challenge since I pick pictures that fit things I’m in the mood to write.   I have no interest in trying to publish anything; I write because I like doing it.  I enjoy the process.

My left knee has been hurting pretty badly.  I broke that kneecap in 1991, and had two surgeries on it — one to repair the kneecap, and one to remove the hardware — and I’m sure my current pain has something to do with that.  I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder, and I have two pinched nerves at my second cervical vertebra on the left from reinjuring that shoulder trying to lift a 40-pound (18.6 kg) bottle of water onto a dispenser stand.  I saw my VA provider (a physician’s assistant/nurse practitioner) (she’s both) when it happened, and saw her again last week because lately both my shoulder and my knee have been hurting so that I was having trouble sleeping.  Predictably, my VA PA said, “Lets throw some pills at it and see what happens.” She prescribed me some diclofenac and put me back on gabapentin.  I do have to say that both medications are working, for once, and I’ve had a great reduction in my pain, which has immensely helped my ability to sleep.

I had to go out today, and when I reached down to put the key in my car’s ignition, I saw the odometer read 11,444.

I’ve been knitting men’s hats and reading, but haven’t finished anything.  I’ve just been like the dormouse at the mad tea party, having difficulty staying awake.  Mostly, I just want to crawl into my teapot and hibernate.

I’ve finally figured out why the fat(cat)boy likes to sleep on this one particular spot on the bed, especially when I’m not in it.  That’s the precise spot where hot air blows out of the air vent onto the bed.  If you want to know what the best seat in the house is, it’s the one the cat’s in. . . .

Blogging By The Columbus Method*

My desktop computer is ailing. It has a wonky fan in the power supply, and my computer guy has it.  About ten minutes after his pickup (This is TX, remember) pulled out of the driveway with the tower in the back seat**, I started to go into withdrawal.  But then I thought, “I have a tablet . . . with a keyboard . . .!”  But, like the man says, “Nothing is ever simple.”  

In the first place, it’s not much of a tablet.  The only reason I even got it was that it has a bigger screen than my Kindle and, of course, it was on sale — which practically goes without saying.  I can take it to knitting group, and when I access knitting patterns off Ravelry or my knitting blog, you can actually read them, and the Kindle app can display a whole page at a time.  Plus, the case I found that fit it came with a little Bluetooth keyboard.  (N.B., A Bluetooth keyboard versus a touchscreen keyboard is technically the lesser of the two evils, but not by much.)  

So, OK, I can blog from the tablet.  E’ bene.  Pezzo di torta. . . . . Uh, nope. I can get to my blog on the jive brower this thing has, but all I can do once I’m there is look at it.  Wait, maybe there’s a WordPress app. . . yes!  I down load the app, cudgel my brains for my WordPress password, and . . . I’m in!  

I’ve been wearing glasses since the age of 6, but the vision in my right eye (What chart?) is actually very sharp at reading distance, and I typically read without my glasses.  I can read books on the Kindle app on this tablet easily without having to put on my glasses.  I quickly discover that I can’t read text on this stupid WordPress app unaided because my nose is too long.  So, I roll the reader table out of the way, move the fat(boy)cat, get out of bed, get my glasses, get settled back in bed, roll my table back into position.  The fat(boy)cat gives me a dirty look, walks all over my legs lookin for that spot he’s gotten all nice and warm, finally finds it, gets it all schooched back out the way he likes it, finds his place in that nap he was enjoying before he was so rudely interrupted, and picks up where he left off.  Now!

Let me just say that for someone who has been touch typing for 4/5ths of her life on a big girl keyboard, and is used to being able to type pert’ near as fast as I can think up what I want to say, using either of this tablet’s options for text entry (touch screen keyboard or Bluetooth keyboard) is like trying to run a marathon with your pants down around your ankles. It’s not quite as bad as having to revert to Morse code, but it’s as near as dammit.

So, my computer guy can’t access me another power supply until Monday, and it may take a week for him to get one in if he can’t get one locally and has to order it, which is just as swell, actually, as I am in serious snowflake mode at the moment with a Wednesday deadline bearing down on me and I was smart enough not to give away my originals when I made copies of the snowflake patterns I printed out to take to knitting group last week (some of us are ambicraftous).

And that’s why this post only took six hours to do.

*The Columbus Method (going east by sailing west) is a complicated, time-consuming, PITA method which you are forced to use to perform what should be a relatively simple, straightforward task because reasons.

**In TX, if you see a man driving a pickup with a crew cab, it usually means he’s married, and he’s having to drive hers to go get the kids. In this case, they’re both retired, she got tired of having to haul herself all the way up into and down out of her pickup and made him get her a Subaru — which he wouldn’t be caught dead driving.  Since her pickup was newer and got better gas mileage, they sold his, and he’s driving hers.

Firefox Quantum is a Quantum of Schmaltz

— In the literal sense of the word “schmaltz,” meaning “chicken fat.”  I got really tired really quickly of piddling with Feedbro and RSSOwl, neither of which was as easy to use as NewsFox (which Firefox “Quantum” broke).  Finally, I just said (among other unrepeatable scatalogical and blasphemous utterances) the heck with it and rolled back Firefox to version 56.02.

I also left a comment on Mozilla’s Facebook page to the effect that I was really pissed off that they broke NewsFox while they were putzing around trying to soup up FireFox and that I was not going to upgrade to Quantum until they fixed it so that it would work with NewsFox.

I just now reinstalled Firefox version 56.02, which is the version before they broke it and have it set to ask me before it updates.   That means I can go back to NewsFox, which is the most useful and efficient feed reader I’ve been able to find.

Call me weird, but updates are supposed to make software better, and I cannot see how changing Firefox  so that the best feed reader out there no longer works  with it, makes it better.

I probably follow about 50 different blogs, 15 Tumblr sites, and about 30 different webcomics, and NewsFox organizes, tracks and updates them very efficiently.  When I open the update, it displays the actual webpage, not just the content, which means I can easily sign into those blogs that require it for commenting.  There were several blogs that neither RSSOwl, nor Feedbro would display in any form that would allow me to sign in so there was no way I could comment.   Also some of the blogs and Tumblr sites are artists’ sites and neither RSSOwl nor Feedbro would display their artwork or the webcomics except as thumbnails you had to click on to go to the website to view — which in Feedbro’s case meant opening another browser tab.  Neither RSSOwl nor Feedbro can hold a candle to the overall performance and user friendliness of NewsFox for viewing textual content, artwork, and photography easily without making you jump through a bunch of hoops to do it.

I don’t have the time or patience for that.  I’ll stick with NewsFox and the old Firefox version 56.02 until Firefox comes up with something that works with NewsFox, or until someone comes up with a better product than either RSSOwl or Feedbro, thank you very much.

Done All My Kitchening For the Week

So, yesterday, I cooked a package of small elbow macaroni and made some pasta salad with chicken, made a pitcher of tea, emptied the dishwasher, and washed up the dishes from making the pasta salad.  The pasta salad was my standing recipe — elbow macaroni, chicken, canned peas and carrots mixture, chopped black olives, chopped kosher dills, chopped white onion and Hellman’s mayonnaise.  The pickles and onions give it a nice crunch.  I’m tucking a bowlful into my little kisser as I type.  Scrums.

My friend LB has two more chemo sessions left.  However, they are going to be pretty rough, especially the last one.  She starts the next to last one today.  We are all heartened by the information that her blood work seems to indicate she has a shot at remission.  It is fervently to be hoped for.  Her daughter A is a professor in theater arts at our big University, but she has taken a semester’s sabbatical to help get her mother through this session of chemo. This time at knitting group, LB brought this hat knitted in scarlet red yarn to show.  She does such beautiful work.

The young Hispanic man came back to the group this time.  He’s been before.  He’s trying to learn crochet.  We had, in fact, three crocheters this last time, but most of the knitters in the group also crochet (including me).  We are an inclusive bunch, and we do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, national origin, political affiliation, or craft.

This time, KC brought a whole box full of cakes of fine weight yarn to give away.  She had them given to her, but she had no use for them. Most of the yarn had two cakes of the same color, and I got four cakes, two each of the same color.  It may be too fine for socks but maybe not.  If it is, I’ll think of something to do with it.

I started this post a good deal earlier this morning, but when I tried to upload the yarn cakes picture, I discovered I’d used up all my free picture storage space, so my solution to the problem was to rename that blog “The Owl Underground Archives II” and start this one.  I thought if I changed the URL and blog name for that one, nobody would have to make any changes to make the transition to the new one, and that it would be simpler to do it that way, but apparently not.  In retrospect, what I should have done was set up a new blog as an archive and migrated all the posts to it. Oh, well.  Sorry about that.  Since I had to start from scratch again, I’m trying out a new theme, and I think I like it.  In the course of all the rigamarole of sorting this out, I discovered I’ve been blogging since December of 2005.

My mom has “broken” her computer again, bless her, and the trained chimpanzee (yrs trly) is going over later this afternoon to find out what she was trying to do and do it for her.  It has something to do with 400 emails that won’t go away.  There’s no telling . . . . .

My BFF came over Sunday and I “fixed” her Kindle again. (She has gotten the idea lodged in her brain that her Kindle is full and won’t work any more.  It was, but I fixed it and got it working months ago.  Last week, she asked me to fix her Kindle because it was full and wouldn’t work.  It was still fixed and still working from the last time I fixed it — except in her brain, apparently, where it is still broken.) She is slightly more technologically competent than my mother (which isn’t saying a whole lot), but she also has strong Luddite tendencies and her relationship with technology tends to be adversarial.  She also has a very, very low frustration threshold, which doesn’t help.


Here We Go Again

It appears I used up all my free picture storage, so I shifted all the posts that were on “The Owl Underground” to “The Owl Underground Archive II.”  If you’re looking for a recent previous post, you’ll find it there.  Have a little patience while I reinvent the wheel and get everything all sorted out again.

I renamed that iteration of the blog and changed the URL so that I could keep the main “The Owl Underground” URL as the “leading edge” of the blog and nobody will have to change their links (I hope!).

Not exactly what I wanted to spend most of the morning doing, but there it is.