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Diver's Pursuits

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  2015.05.22  08.45
Not sick!

Turns out the water was fine.  Panic averted.  Whew!

I'm downstairs right now, working on the porch instead of in the lobby [because ants] because the rain has washed some of the heat away.  No internals were harmed in the making of these last two posts.  Yay!


  2015.05.21  15.15
I may soon be very sad

What do the words "Thailand", "water", and "not paying attention" suggest to you?


So, anyway.  1.5L plastic bottles of water cost 18 baht and there are refill stations all over the place where you can buy a liter of filtered water for 1 baht as long as you bring your own bottle.  They're great, and I've been using them since I got here.  Using a particular one, in fact.

Today I went out for lunch with Dave Thompson.  Usually I just go to one of two places that are within a couple of blocks of here so that I can eat and get back to work, but today he wanted to go to a place about ten minutes away.  Okay, sure, try something new.  We walk over, I have a very nice curry, on the way back we stop at the refill station. I top up my two 1.5L bottles and my 0.5L steel CFAR water bottle, exactly like I've done every day for the last month.  I'm just finishing filling up when a woman leans out of the house to one side and waves at us, saying something in Thai.  It is at this point that I notice the sign on the side of the machine which is hard to understand but seems to say that the water will be off at 1300.  It's 1249 now, so we wave back to her and say "no worries, it's still working!"

We get back to the hostel, I go back to work with the water bottle next to me.  I'm in flow, not really aware of my surroundings, and automatically drinking from the water bottle.  Suddenly I break out of what I'm doing because I've just noticed that the water I'm drinking tastes funny and I've probably had about 1/3 L of it already.

Ah, crap.

I dump all the bottles, get some bottled water from the hostel's fridge (each one 10B for 0.5L) to wash out my steel water bottle, and I'm drinking the rest of the bottled stuff.  I've been here for a month with no problems and I go home in a week and a half; I really don't want to "become uncomfortable" now.  Nothing to do but wait, I guess.


  2015.05.19  17.32
Woot! My first Patreon patron!

A few weeks ago I set up a Patreon campaign but I didn't launch it because I stalled on creating goals.  Today I kicked it out the door without any, and within a couple of hours I've got one patron and another who says he intends to sign up.  Wow!


  2015.05.17  19.55
Two Year Emperor, now in Amazon

If you've read "The Two Year Emperor" and you own a Kindle this might interest you.  If you haven't and/or don't, it may still interest you:

The first part of 2YE is now edited (much scenery chewing removed), equipped with a *stunning* cover, and live in Amazon at this link:

I ended up rolling the first two volumes together, so it's 40,000 words -- basically, it's about the average size for a romance novel.  (It's not romance, of course, but that makes a good mental yardstick.

Whether or not you want to read it, drop by just to check out the cover.  Aria (the woman who made it for me) did a fantastic job.
Also, you can get a Kindle Unlimited free trial here: which will let you read 2YE (and most other Kindle books) for free.


  2015.05.17  19.30
Bill failing

Just had a lovely dinner.  Asked for the bill while I was finishing up.  Got it, checked it: 239 baht, sounds good.  Finished food, dropped 240 baht + 10B tip(*) on the bill, said goodbye and walked out.  They said goodbye in return, then I'm out the door.  I'm twenty feet down the block when the waitress comes running after me holding the 240 baht, saying "you forgot your money."  I look at her like she's a bit nuts, she tries to push the money on me again, I am confused.

Okay, maybe I misread the bill?  Maybe this didn't cover it?  I lead her back inside and over to my table.  Yep, bill is still there.  Yep, it's still 239 baht.  I show it to her and the light dawns.  She and the other two waitresses (all teenage girls) start giggling madly.  I say goodnight again and leave.

That was a bit more surreal than expected.

(*) If 10B tip on a 239B bill sounds cheap, it's really not.  Theoretically people *do* tip in Thailand but in practice it doesn't seem to be the case -- apparently 20B on a 1,000B meal is considered generous. 


  2015.05.15  15.01
First volume of 2YE: complete! 15 more to go

I have this 350,000 word D&D-fanfiction web series called The Two Year Emperor(*) that I published for about a year and a half starting Sept 2013. I published a chapter a week without fail during that time, and it was moderately popular -- almost 1,000 reviews, about 10-15,000 views per week.
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EDIT:  Doh, forgot the cut.  Sorry.


  2015.05.09  22.22
I am newly published! Please read my book for free!

Behold, my newest book! (Newest as of 2015-05-09, if you're reading this in the future.)

The blurb!:

How do you survive in a world where an invisible probability storm can cause Chicago to melt and people to get superpowers?

People Change when they soak up too many p-rads; they gain abilities that defy physics and occasionally they mutate into freakish monsters. Worst of all, the Changed are sources of p-rads: even if you can accept that your infant daughter now has tentacles, being near her will eventually cause you to Change as well. Society's reactions are not pretty. There are laws, there are Camps, and eventually there is rebellion and American bombs raining down on American citizens.

On February 27, 2001, the Changed strike back. President Bush is giving his first State of the Union speech in front of both houses of Congress when the Changed kick the door down and start making demands. They have numbers, righteous anger, and powers that can warp reality. Kristin Morely, schoolteacher-turned-Congresswoman, has something better: brains, guts, and a detailed knowledge of the Constitution.

Never fool with Kristin Morely. She will mess you up.

7200 words.

If you have a Kindle Unlimited account (free trial) I would really appreciate it if you would borrow the book and scroll through the first 10%.  If you do, I get paid.  More importantly, the first 48 hours of a book's existence on Amazon have a huge impact on its Salesrank and therefore its visibility and its earning potential.

If you aren't familiar with Kindle Unlimited, it's basically Netflix for books.  You can get a free trial for it and, after that, it's $10 / month to read as many books as you want.  You don't need a Kindle; you can read in your browser through Amazon's Cloud Reader or on your Kindle / iDevice / etc.  (Obviously, you can still buy books as well as borrow them.)

If you borrow a book and read the first 10% of it, the author gets paid.  Since you're on LJ you're probably a reader, so KU can be a really nice way for you to get reading material and also be able to toss some free money in the tip jar of any author you like.


  2015.05.08  15.31
Cute puppy is cute!

The place where I'm staying has two dogs -- little yappy unfriendly rat-dog Chihuahuas. We pretty much ignore each other and we're all fine with that.

For the next two days, the managers where I'm staying are taking care of the most *adorable* Bull Terrier puppy. His name is Monni (like Manny but with an O), he's two weeks old, sweet, friendly, and he likes having his ears scritched. I had forgotten how much I like spending time with dogs.

Best of all, Pim (the male half of "Pim and Miki", the managers) wants to keep him. I'm going to be here for a goodly while!

EDIT: Pim and Miki were taking care of Monni for two days before he got on a plane to go to his new mom down in Bangkok. They called her up and said "we'd like to pay you 2000B to let us adopt Monni" Sadly, the woman said no. There was some mostly-joking suggestion of buying another dog and sending that one on to Bangkok -- after all, the woman hadn't seen Monni yet -- but in the final event it turned out that the two little yappy dogs were terrified of Monni so he had to go after all. Sadness.


  2015.05.07  21.21
I had to travel 7,600 miles to be able to say this without being rude

Fair warning: this will only be awesome for a certain subset of nerds.

I just walked into a restaurant and said (phonetically) "Cha Earl Grey rohn".

Why is this full of awesome? Because "Cha" means tea, and "rohn" means hot.



Language geeking:

In point of fact what I said was "Cha Earl Grey rohn krahp". Krahp is the Thai phatic for "please" and "thank you" or generally "whatever I just said was intended politely." (Not joking about that last.)

Interestingly, only men say "krahp"; women say "kaa." Furthermore, men say krahp forcefully and women say kaa on a quiet and falling intonation. The more quietly they say it the more polite it is.

And yes, I'm aware of what the sentence "only men say krahp" sounds like in English. Trust me, it's hard enough to feel comfortable about saying it all the time.


  2015.05.02  21.31
Having programming skills in non-programming fields is awesome

Twenty years as a programmer; I'm pretty good, but not the best.  Not the kind who gets asked to speak at conferences, for example.  (Although, to be fair, a lot of that is because I never positioned myself to be in that slot.)

Anyway.  Have programming skills in a programming job?  Cool, welcome to the shark tank.  Let's see who's the biggest fish.

Have programming skills in a non-programming job?  Holy crap, you're awesome!  It makes so much drudgery so much easier.
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Anyway, I'm feeling pretty pleased right now.  And a little bit smug.  Pardon me while I bask.


Okay, I've had my moment.  Nothing to see here.  Back to work.

(As an aside:  For some people this will be old hat; many people in the 21st centure (probably including most of the people who are reading this) have sufficient programming skills to automate this sort of thing.  Despite that, it is good to occasionally stop and take a moment to recognize cool things.)


  2015.05.02  21.05
If publishing on Amazon, publish novellas, not novels

This will be a wall'o'text, but the takeaway is:  if you want to make money publishing ebooks on Amazon, publish novellas or short stories, not novels.
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So, yes, if you break a novel into novellas, you make a ton more money given how Amazon has structured their payments.


  2015.04.29  16.00
Fallen behind on my blogging; relocated hostels

I left Kikie's house a few days ago.  I knew my reservation was coming up, although I didn't remember exactly when, so one evening I had wandered down the street  a few blocks checking each of the hostels for prices and availability.  Many of them were closed, but that's okay.
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  2015.04.22  15.35
How to get from Chiang Mai Gate Hotel to Kikie's House hostel

Taking a cab in Thailand, wheee!Collapse )


  2015.04.14  14.19
First day in Thailand

So, I've relocated from Malaysia to Thailand.  It's been an adventure.

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Now comes the fun part: the Water Festival.  I knew it was going on, but what I understood was that it was people shooting each other with waterguns.

If by "waterguns" you mean "buckets" then yes, that is exactly what it means. Basically, this is a national holiday where nearly everything closes so that a significant fraction of the country's population can act like asshats.  It's pretty much The Purge, except without the blood.  People will do drive-bys and they don't care if you have luggage with you, they're going to soak you anyway.  You don't get to opt-out.

I had to go out to get food (about 4 doors down) and again to get an adapter (about 2 doors down).  I brought my raincoat; fortunately I managed to not get hit.  I'm not leaving the hostel until this is over.  Well, to be honest I'm not leaving the hostel much anyway.  Again, the point is to live cheap, not to go touristing.  (Yes, that is now a word!)


  2015.04.10  11.59
I won't be using Google Docs again, except for trivial things

Don't use Google Docs for anything substantial.

I have a novel I've been working on, and a friend is co-editing it with me, so we used Google Docs as a convenient way to share. The Internet where I am is spotty, so I've been using Chrome's "edit offline" mode a fair bit. I just lost a day and a half of work--apparently, Google didn't feel like syncing it back to the online version when the Internet bounced and then came up again a few minutes later. Alternatively, maybe the problem is that our edits overlapped and my friend's went in T=0 and mine weren't synced until T=1. When Chrome tried to sync them it said "oh, this section has already changed. Well, I'll just silently throw out what Dave did." And yes, I've looked in the revision history to try and sort it out; there are no entries there for my edits.

Forget this, I'm going back to HTML. I write it fluently, it's exactly zero effort to restyle it if I don't like how I formatted things the first time, and everyone on the planet has a browser.

Oh, and if we're complaining about things, Google Doc's has an "Export to HTML" option which is nearly useless. Everything comes out on one line, making it unusable for a human, and instead of using standard em and strong tags they've built their own very complicated series of class elements to do basic styling. Screw you, alternative media displays! We know what people want!


  2015.04.10  07.21
Well, that's exciting

Thailand is currently under martial law.

I leave for Thailand on Monday.  This should be fun.


  2015.04.06  18.52
Goo Customer Service

"Hm," thought PositiveMe earlier today.  "This hostel that I'm in, I like it very much.  The pods, they are comfortable and private.  The air conditioning is shiny.  The free breakfast is nice, albeit minimal.  There's really no downsides about living here."

"Well," said NegativeMe.  "Except the occasional bed bugs and the fact that they play the same !*#@)*@)_ six reggae songs every @@%#! day from six o'#!#%clock until midnight but, hey, let's not nitpick."

"Hm, those are good points, NegativeMe," said PositiveMe.

"Damn straight," said NegativeMe.

"So...we're going to Thailand next week," said PositiveMe.  "We'll be staying in another pod hostel for the first couple of days.  If we like it we could extend, but if not we could go elsewhere.  You know, we were told that renting a cabin on the beach is really cheap.  If we got one of those, we could work in the morning, and then swim in the nice warm ocean for two or three hours, have a small and healthy lunch, and then work some more until going to bed at a reasonable hour.  Why, by the time we went back to the States we'd be ripped like Arnold @)#*@ Schwarzenegger!"

"Riiiiight.  You keep telling yourself that," NegativeMe said, patting PositiveMe condescendingly on the head.  "For one thing, Chiang Mai isn't on the ocean."

"Oh," said PositiveMe.  "Well, I guess that does rather put a crimp in that plan, doesn't it?"

"Yes.  There's no reason we couldn't check and see what a cabin would cost us, though," said NegativeMe.  "If we had our own place, we wouldn't have to put up with the occasional bed bugs and the fact that they play the same !*#@)*@)_ six reggae songs every @@%#! day from six o'#!#%clock until midnight."

"Hm, those are good points, NegativeMe," said PositiveMe.

"Damn straight," said NegativeMe.  "Make with the typing, Pollyana."
The rest of the conversation between the voices that live in my head and a property owner on the internetCollapse )

So, yeah, staying in a hostel and then I'll sort something out.  Nice thing about hostels:  they pretty much always have beds open.  On the upside, I have just learned that there is a new kind of customer service in the world:  great customer service, good customer service, bad customer service, and goo customer service, which is mostly like good customer service would be if it involved being stuffed head first into a giant vat of goo.

EDIT:  In the interest of not sounding like a jerk, I should say that I'm not actually outing his name when he's trying to keep it private.  He puts it on his emails and it's in some of the reviews.


  2015.04.03  20.28
I have my computer back!

I just picked up my computer from the guy at the mall about 40 minutes ago, and now I'm back at the hostel. Behold, the power of this full repaired and operational 15" Apple laptop! Mwahahaha!

It is SO nice being back on a full size keyboard and screen instead of the 11" one. I was having trouble with negative transference from the Apple keyboard shortcuts to the Windows machine and now I'm getting it in the other direction -- apparently I was using that machine juuuust long enough that my fingers learned that "Control-<left arrow>" means "move one word to the left", whereas on Apple that means "move to the start of the current line."  Meh, I'll get it back in a few hours.

So very excited!


  2015.03.31  19.25
Upping my game: writing

I'd say I'm a pretty good writer, and I'd be wrong.
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EDIT: apologies to those who got hit with a giant wall of text. I'm on my phone (computer in shop) and forgot to put in the cut tags.


  2015.03.30  20.50
Holy blazing firey spitballs of hell, Batman! Who thought THIS was a good idea?!!?!?!!

It turns out that Windows has an interesting feature: if you press Ctrl+Alt+, the screen will go black for a couple of very long seconds and then come back rotated. C+A+ means that it's been rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise, C+A+ means it's been rotated 180, etc.

I have never seen this feature in any other operating system. Such clever lads and lassies up there in Redmod, aren't they?

Apropos of nothing, C+A+ occupies the same spaces that a Mac user forced to use Windows might instinctively hit when trying to, say, select a number of words for cut/paste/delete/etc. Just an interesting little tidbit.


  2015.03.29  19.43
Stress, frustration, drunks...success!

Computer status: Cleaning failed, two weeks for repairs.

Well, crap. I leave Malaysia in a week. "Oh, where are you going?" "Thailand." "Oh...they don't have computer repair places there." (Uh-huh.) "Well, I'll do my best to fix it in a week, but I can't make promises. Sometimes it's hard to get parts that quickly." "Okay, fine."

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So, final result: my flights are changed, I'm stuck on a tiny little Windows computer with a somewhat flaky spacebar for the next two weeks, but I can at least do writing. Not sure if I can code, but at least I can write, so that's something.

Mood: relieved, exasperated

  2015.03.29  09.29
Irritating day

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  2015.03.24  15.49
I am a published author! Also, important life lesson

I am a self-published author!

I just published my first book on Amazon...well, technically it's a short (~9,000 words), but still. The name is "One Hot Night" and it's still in review live in the store right now! Woot! They said it would take 12 hours to a week, but it actually only took a couple hours.

Over the past couple of days I've learned a lot about self-publishing and Amazon in particular, but that's a separate post. Right now I'm just vibrating with excitement.

I'm also talking with a new friend, David Thompson, about doing a business that would be a cross between eBay and Patreon, aimed at letting fans support their favorite artists. That's also really exciting, so today has been a great day.

In the "important life lessons" story: being in Malaysia is fine. Telling a restauranteur that you want your curry 'medium' spicy is fine. HOLY CRAP DO NOT DO BOTH TOGETHER!


  2015.03.22  22.08
Shorts! Toilets! Communism! Excitement!

Wandered up to the mall again today to pick up some more cargo shorts.  Turns out there's a free shuttle bus that runs from the place I was having lunch to the mall.  After last time I didn't even bother looking around, I just went straight to H&M and sucked up the fact that it was going to be crazy expensive.  I would have picked up a bunch of shorts last time but they only had the one set larger than a 32.  This time, fortunately, they had plenty of both 34 (which is what I've been all my life) and 36 (...except for the last few years.)  The 36s were a little loose and couldn't really be worn without a belt, 34 fits but is a little tight.  I opted for the 34s...we'll see if I end up regretting that.

Toilets. Also, Communism.Collapse )

Anyway, I decided I'd just head back to the hostel, which I did.  Problem solved.


  2015.03.10  07.37
So, there's good news and bad news....

There's good news and bad news today.

  • The good news is that bed bugs are not a disease vector to humans

  • You can probably guess the bad news.

This hostel is quite clean.  They sweep and mop twice a day, change sheets often, etc.  Sadly, like all hostels, it's populated by backpackers -- people who travel through some fairly skeezy parts of the world, live in very cheap (and therefore sometimes dirty or buggy) places, and some of whom don't necessarily shower as often as perhaps they should.
Oh no, bed bugs!Collapse )


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