Gifts from the Tree Friends in Autumn: Two Oaks, Two Maples

Direct experience of nature is a major theme in my writing. Technology has also figured strongly in my life: both professionally and in my growth as a writer/artist. The image below incorporates both nature and technology. I’ve taken leaves collected on walks during my recent convalescence, scanned them, and color-corrected them to document the bright autumn colors that never seem to translate in untouched photographs. Clockwise from top left, the leaves come from a red oak, a sugar maple, a white oak, and a red maple. The sound of the wind in the leaves, the feel of trees arching over my head and burrowing their roots into the ground, and their life cycle which mirrors the wheel of year are all powerful grounding forces for my body, heart, mind, and spirit.

Clockwise from top left: red oak, sugar maple, white oak, red maple
Clockwise from top left: red oak, sugar maple, white oak, red maple

Dear Apple

Dear Apple:

Yes, your products are sexy and nicely designed and I lust after them with all my heart, especially after being inundated with ads in which comely young people dance around and smile and socialize with them. But your UI quotient is not as high as you think it is. After one week with a new iPod touch, I’m remembering the other reason I went over to The Dark Side back in 1998. I’ve been walking around for the past 10 years thinking it was because of your major strategy FAIL in forcing people to shell out huge amounts of cash for your platforms and hardware, only to discover that none of the software they needed would work on them.

The other reason, Apple, that I left you for your eveel cousin PC/Windows back in 1998 can be summed up in one work: CLUNKe.

As in, your shit is CLUNKY, Apple. Now that I’ve had a decade or two to appreciate the joys of tweaking settings and whatnot (“fiddling”, as Army Guy would call it), I can see that your sexy, cleanly designed UI isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s clunky because in order for a design to be spare it can’t have as many dials to twiddle and buttons to click. It’s clunky because, unless someone is paying close attention, she can lose $12 worth of apps while updating the OS of their hardware. It’s clunky because it’s resource-intensive and resistant to intermittent fix-ups. It’s clunky because it’s not customizable. And it’s clunky because it doesn’t play nicely with any kind of hardware but yours.

Not everyone in the world can afford to pay through the nose for upgrades every two to three years, Apple. And not everyone has hours and hours to lose on your support forums, or upgrading their entire operating systems.

Once upon a time I thought I was an Apple person. But since then, I’ve learned I’m not an Apple person, a Microsoft person, or a Linux person. I’m a pragmatist. I want what’s inexpensive and easy to use. I suppose I’ll just have to suffer through the indignities of not being the first girl on the block with the new shiny white toy, and wait for the 3G version of your products. Preferably as a Christmas/birthday present from my favorite Silicon Valley techie.

Sincerely,

Me

Return of the Prodigal

Facebook has ruined my blogging habit. But there’s more than that going on, of course. I find myself for the first time in years actually submitting my work for review by other publishers. Since self-publishing (without the stigma of its print predecessor) was what first lured me down the path that eventually led to a career in web development, this is a pretty major shift.

When I say that Facebook ruined my blogging habit, I mean it it more ways than one. Facebook, Twitter, and the whole social media phenomenon, made it easier to push out short blasts of speech — snippets that might have formerly gone into the stew of a whole blog post prior. But even more than that is the sense that the Intartubes are a much more crowded place than they used to be. It was easy to sound a barbaric yawp over the empty moorlands of the Web in 1995. The actual chances of it being heard by someone I knew in real life were pretty limited; I was lonely anyhow and needed to find kindred souls — and for some reason, while there were fewer souls on the Web back then, more of them were kindred. And finally, I was in my early 20s with a lot less to lose.

The older one gets, the more twisted and tangled and just… long one’s story becomes, the more one wishes to exercise some control over which portions of it are available to the general public.

All that leads up to less blogging in the public sphere and more writing on paper.

I feel as though I’ve finally begun to make some headway in my recovery as a writer as well. It’s been years in the making and it’s been a slow and unsteady process, but it’s happening. And I’m beginning to see how it dovetails with the other types of healing I’ve had to do. There’s a bit about that here (Facebook link). Perhaps more about that later. Many thanks to Ren Jender, Toni Amato, Jen Hemenway, and Debbie Shore for the parts they’ve all played in this ongoing journey. There are others, but those are the names that come to mind right now.

And it’s time to stop this particular bit of writing and move on to other things.

The Good, the Bad, and the Roomba

The Good
“Remember how you said that the beef stew was a little thin for your taste? Well, I added some stuff to it and cooked it down, and now it’s nice and thick. Do you want me to save you some?”

“You know, sometimes I think you have the impression I don’t like your cooking. I think you’re a good cook.”

“I know. But it’s not just enough to be good. I’m a perfectionist. It can’t just be good, everything has to be faaaaabulous!”

“Well, you already are fabulous.”

“Awwww! I’m going to eat the last of the stew for lunch.”

The Bad
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. My cousin out in California and I had a falling-out because I kept trying to raise his awareness about trans issues. Regardless of what you think about trans genitalia, or whether trans sex is “real sex” (take a wild guess as to where I stand on that issue), I think we can all agree that transfolk have the right to, you know, live. Without being beaten, maimed, or murdered. I think that the ability to walk down the street undisturbed is a basic human right we can all agree on.

More information here: http://gender.org/remember/day/index.html
(and no, visiting the site will not make you queer).

The Roomba
Yet another reason for me to get a Roomba (I need to amass a good amount of them in order to overcome that “but we’re in a recession” voice in the back of my head):

Link in case of embed failure

I can’t imagine my timid kitty would ever actually ride the thing around the room like that. But still, soooo cuuuuuute! Robot friends!