Archive for October, 2004

Learned Helplessness

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

I heard about learned helplessness from a Metro column on the Red Sox, back when they were down three games and looking, well, helpless. I was curious, I googled, and this is what I found:

The Obligatory Red Sox Post

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

I admit, I’ve been ignoring the whole thing. Unlike the local Sox faithful, my money is on the curse. I don’t have time to waste watching the Red Sox take five extra innings every time just to stay in the playoffs, not when I know they’re going to blow it in the end like they have every year since before any of us were born.

But if you want to keep up on the long road to stunning defeat, I recommend the Red Sox Nation Advisory System from a small victory. The current alert level is Orange: High Risk of Elimination.

LJ RSS Feeds with Locked Posts

Monday, October 18th, 2004

Note: There is content after the geeking, really.

I found a couple of blog entries about authenticating LJ RSS feeds so you can see friends-locked posts in NetNewsWire and better RSS readers everywhere: eclecticism (Reading protected LiveJournal entries via RSS) and
life - listed chronologically (LiveJournal RSS Celebration).

The LJ FAQ (Question #149) isn’t nearly as informative. It doesn’t mention putting the username and password into the RSS URL. I’ve been experimenting with leaving it out, and NetNewsWire will ask me for the password and save it in the keychain if I do. That’s probably a better approach.

Jerie was kind enough to lend me a test account to try it out, and it does all work. Rather than make everyone friend a sockpuppet, though, and since the RSS feed thing gives me a use for one for the first time, I made my own LJ account. I’m not planning to post anything there except possibly Stargate fic announcements, but friend the new me if you want me to see your friends-locked posts. I will still read your LJ RSS feeds even if you don’t friend me, and I won’t get offended or anything about it.

Poetry Meme

Sunday, October 17th, 2004

By way of Jerie, Seema and probably more people I’ve forgotten: When you see this, post a bit of poetry in your own journal.

My favorite poem is an obscure bit of traditional Portuguese verse which I can’t find online, don’t have my hard copy of, and have never been able to properly translate, anyway. If you know the poem that starts “Onde vais, formosa e bela, aqui neste deserto?” please leave me a comment.

So instead here’s a fragment of “Fare Well” by Walter de la Mare:

Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
   Till to delight
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
   In other days.

Blogging Abroad

Saturday, October 16th, 2004

Pretty picture of the day: a new Apple mini-store

I blogged at GNXP about recent IQ news. If you’d like more medical anomalies, here’s an article about ‘truth wizards’, human lie detectors.

Lord of the Rings Exhibition

Friday, October 15th, 2004

Dr. Deb and I finally made it to the LotR Exhibition at the Museum of Science yesterday. The tickets were free so it was well worth the money. If you’re the sort of person who likes DVD extras about how the movie was made, this exhibit is for you. If, on the other hand, you’re a book fan, you may be disappointed in how little the staff seems to know about it.

You needn’t worry for your wallet, though. The level of merchandising is shockingly low for an exhibit of this size. They were selling the books, books on tape, games, and posters of Orlando Bloom. I don’t know whether the culprit was licensing restrictions on the LotR end, or Museum of Science policy (the main gift shop is pretty bare, too); if you’ve been to the exhibition in another country maybe you can tell me.

Boston was the only stop here in the US this time around. I think they said it’s going to London after October 24th, so see it now or forever hold your peace.

First Lines

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

Ok, I’ve succumbed to the infectious first lines
, but only so far as to post some first lines from my
stories. The first set are what was intended by the meme; the rest
are there for fun. Feel free to fic with any of them.

Generic first lines:

You really should have kept up with those guys from boot camp.

Immortality is growing on me.

It was easier when I was angry.

You frown at nothing as your teammates walk away.

Deprogramming means forcing the person to think when they don’t want
to think.

Gold becomes her.

I watch them silently from within the machine.

You lose your son, misplace your wife, fall for a woman you can never
have, and you figure, those are the breaks.

Everyone in the Air Force dreams of being an astronaut, just like
everyone wants to be a pilot.

The conference table stretched on and on and on, its red and black
stripes seeming to fade into infinity - or, possibly, infinite

You’re shocked to see her at first.

I thought it’d be worse than it was.

Greetings to you, your wife, your parents and your children!

“I could find the answer, sir, if I just had a little more

She sat in the big chair, her head slightly tilted, her attention
fixed on the image before her.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” she said.

Your duty has taken you far from home.

From time immemorial sailors have built ships in a bottle.

Few people get to see the past coming alive; even fewer want to.

The surviving crew of the unluckiest starship in Federation history
gazed entranced at long-range visuals of blue-green Earth.

The color…she couldn’t get the color right.

“A penny for your thoughts.”

How they’d gotten involved in the Asthani civil war was beyond them.

You think you’ll do it tomorrow.

“So old man, did you ask her out?”

Planet P3X-562 gave a whole new meaning to the term ’sand lot.’

When you’re in mourning for a Goa’uld, your friends look at you

Until today I was a host for the Tok’ra.

Why are the Tok’ra always wandering off alone?

She threw the PADD across the room.

The worst day was the day I realized it wasn’t going to get any better
when we reached the Alpha Quadrant.

I always thought the end of the world would come with the shriek of
death gliders, the blast of staff weapons, and the descent of a
pyramid ship from the stratosphere - an apocalypse of forgotten, evil

It seems like every time I meet someone new, (1) one of us is
unconscious, (2) one of us is an alien, and (3) the alien has the
technology to show me exactly how it feels about me.


BRAD 2004

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

A BRAD meme, by way of Rocky:

Who was your first beta?


What was the story and fandom?

The fandom was Voyager, but I was writing a few stories at once. It may have been The Unity of the Multiverse.

Are you still writing in that fandom?

I try not to. The muse has moved on and it’s always best to move on with her.

Which beta(s) had the most impact on your writing?

I’d have to say Jintian, for pointing out my wandering POV. But see the question below about qualities I look for in a beta reader.

What is your favorite story or series of what you’ve written and why?

I’m fondest of the filks, really. Although the musicals are my greatest filky achievement, the Khan-filk I Will Revive is currently nearest and dearest to my heart.

Who was the beta?

The betas just nod and say “very nice, Jemima” when I send them filks. I’m not sure they want their names involved, but they can ‘fess up in the comments if they’d like.

What are your next two favorite stories or series of what you’ve written and why?

Moving on to actual stories, I pretty much agree with the fans on favorites. People are reccing “The Dance” almost 4 years after B’Elanna the Muse wrote it. Why is it my favorite? Because of the incredible muse high I had while writing it.

It’s harder to pick another. I’d like to name an SG fic, but my favorite is my unfinished SG novel, for its theme. Of things you can read now, I’ll go with another VOY standard: The Museum. It started out as a loosely-linked AU series but then it came together to an unexpected resolution. I got to do all sorts of character assassination and the Borg got to assimilate the Alpha Quadrant along the way, so fun was had all around.

Who beta-ed your most recent story?

Jade and Jerie beta all my Stargate fic. Lately they’ve been doing drabbles in batches of ten and campaigning for longer fics.

What do you consider the most important quality in a beta reader?

The same as in a writer—she needs to love the show. Familiarity with canon and fanon are vital, because a beta reader is not (for my purposes) an editor; she’s a test reader. You can’t know whether a story is coming across well unless you’re familiar with the genre and the background.

What do you consider the most important thing to be accomplished in a beta read? (Grammar, spelling, continuity, plot, character, canon, fanon, hand holding, other?)

It depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the author. Grammar and spelling aren’t a problem for me (though the betas still find stuff), so I just want to know in general that the story is working. I’m behind on Stargate canon, so Jerie is very helpful there. Jade is always on the lookout for good kissyface opportunities.

How has your writing changed from your first stories?

It’s better from a technical standpoint, but it’s gotten worse in some ways. I don’t spend the time on my fanfic that I used to. My SG stories aren’t getting the love that VOY did. Fortunately I’m a faster writer now so things have evened out more or less, but I still haven’t written The Great SG Ship Story.

What do you attribute that to?

The good I’d attribute to practice and learning more about fiction writing (for the sake of my original fiction, but the fanfic benefits, too).

The bad I’d attribute to laziness, shows going off the air, and the flight of the Muse. I feel guilty now about writing fanfic instead of original stories, so I don’t put the work into fanfic that I might have in the past. I’ve also done most of the things I was inspired to do, especially in Voyager.

The kissyface I attribute to Jade.

Happy BRAD, everyone!

Zoom into Links

Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

Here are some fun and handy links I’ve come across recently:


Monday, October 11th, 2004

This entry inaugurates my new emacs category, which I’ve already stocked with some old emacs-related posts. (Emacs is the infinitely extensible text editor with a soft spot in its heart for elisp.)

The emacs extension of the day is tabbar.el. I was feeling jealous of cool new Mac text editors like TextMate with their drawers and their clickable tab-like buttons. How I wished that emacs had a pop-out drawer, or at the very least, tabs.

So I googled for tabbed emacs, and found the magic elisp file at EMHACKS. (Download it from the tabbar files section.) In just a few short moments, I had tabs!

Although it is documented, tabbar has no handy start-up guide for beginners. With the help of Zhou Chen’s Emacs Tools page, I figured out that I needed to add

(require 'tabbar)

to my .emacs file just to get the tab bar to show up.

Next, I wanted to do a keybinding to get emacs to switch tabs with command-shift-left-arrow and command-shift-right-arrow, the way Safari and iTerm do. With the help of the emacs function keys info node, I found the right combination for my .emacs file:

(global-set-key [A-S-left] 'tabbar-backward)
(global-set-key [A-S-right] 'tabbar-forward)

[The above may depend on (setq mac-command-key-is-meta nil). If you don’t have that setting, then try M-S-left and M-S-right instead.] You can also assign ‘tabbar-backward-group and ‘tabbar-forward-group the same way, but ‘tabbar-backward and ‘tabbar-forward will scroll through groups as well so I didn’t bother.

I didn’t like the way tabbar assigned my buffers to groups, so I wrote my own version of the tabbar-buffer-groups function and put it in my .emacs file, too.